McCullum aiming high with Test team

Staff WritersPress Association
Head coach Brendon McCullum wants England to compete with Australia, India and New Zealand in Tests.
Camera IconHead coach Brendon McCullum wants England to compete with Australia, India and New Zealand in Tests. Credit: AAP

Brendon McCullum has said he believes a strong England side can help the Test format thrive.

The New Zealander has been appointed head coach to halt the decline of a team that have won just one of their last 17 Tests. He will report for duty at the end of this month to begin work with new captain Ben Stokes.

McCullum, 40, was one of the most buccaneering players around during his playing career and he is confident that making England a competitive, attractive outfit can provide a lift to the wider Test game.

Speaking in an in-house interview with the England and Wales Cricket Board, he said: "Test cricket has always been the pinnacle for me and maybe the popularity of it has somehow trended south of late.

"If red-ball cricket is to not just sustain but to thrive, it needs England to be playing an attractive brand of Test cricket, which is competing with Australia, India, New Zealand. It's a big, lofty goal but it's what is in front of us.

"That is what enthused me, if we can get that right, to get England back to where they - where we - should be, which is top of the pile.

"Challenging the best teams in the world, playing the brand that appeals to the next generation of talent, then we're able to get Test cricket to a stage where kids are wanting to play it rather than just the short versions."

Turning his message to the fans of his adopted country, he added: "If we can achieve the ambitions both Stokesy and myself have, it's going to be a team that is certainly worth following.

"Hopefully we can play that kind of entertaining - I won't say cavalier, because that's probably what other people expect us to do - cricket.

"It's a pretty simple philosophy but if we get that right, with the talent that exists in the English cricket set-up, hopefully we'll get results to go in the right direction and build something together."

McCullum also spoke of his close relationship with England's one-day captain Eoin Morgan, revealing the pair speak on a daily basis, and described his new limited-overs counterpart, Australian Matthew Mott, as a "really astute coach" who operates "without ego".

On the sharing of multi-format players, he added: "Our relationship will be good. There'll be times when we fight over players, no doubt, but we'll try and come to the right decision for the player and the right decision for English cricket."

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