'Rock bottom': Kiwi great's staggering claim after taking England role

·4-min read
Pictured here, New Zealand cricket great Brendon McCullum watches on during a match.
New Zealand great Brendon McCullum has been named England's new Test cricket coach. Pic: Getty

New Zealand great Brendon McCullum has delivered a harsh truth bomb on England after being officially unveiled as the country's new Test cricket coach.

The former New Zealand captain will leave his job in charge of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders to take over a red-ball side that has fallen to last position in the World Test Championship after just one win in the last 17 matches.

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Leading the revival is a sizeable task for the 40-year-old, who has never coached before at first-class or Test level, but is renowned as one of the sport's most progressive thinkers and dynamic leaders.

Upon accepting the role, McCullum - who is the Black Caps' fourth highest run-scorer in Test history - said the allure of helping a side that has hit "rock bottom" was too good to refuse.

"If you are prepared to change your life it has got to be something a bit grunty, a little bit meaty," McCullum said on his SENZ radio show.

"And the challenge of bringing a team that is rock bottom at the moment and building something long-term, sustainable and successful ... that is more where the challenge lay."

McCullum, who won 101 Test caps and retired from international cricket in 2016, was initially approached to be England's white-ball coach but said he did not want a "cushy gig", adding his love of Test cricket sealed the deal.

"The white-ball didn't interest me as such because the team is flying - they are one of the best in the world and obviously world champions as well.

"They have Eoin Morgan in there who is a very good friend of mine who has built a structure and system that will continue well after he finishes playing as well.

"I wasn't interested in a cushy gig.

"Plus I love Test cricket and the opportunity to coach England and spend a lot of time around those grounds and traditions and history of the game, it became so appealing."

As New Zealand skipper, McCullum set his country on the path to their current golden era, which has seen them finish as runner-up in each of the last two World Cups and claim the inaugural World Test Championship.

Pictured right, Brendon McCullum presents the World Test Championship trophy to Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson.
As former skipper Brendon McCullum (R) helped turn New Zealand into one of the top Test cricket nations in the world. Pic: Getty

England Cricket excited by Brendon McCullum appointment

The 40-year-old -reportedly set to start a four-year contract - won over the England and Wales Cricket Board's selection panel with his passionate approach.

McCullum saw off a strong challenge from Proteas great Gary Kirsten, whose credentials with South Africa and India had once made him favourite to land the job.

Director of men's cricket Rob Key, who led the nomination process alongside ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, strategic adviser Sir Andrew Strauss and performance director Mo Bobat, is enthused about the prospect of McCullum linking up with new Test skipper Ben Stokes.

"I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes - a formidable coach and captain partnership. Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride. I believe his appointment will be good for England's Test team," said Key.

"He has a recent history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better, and I believe he is the person to do that for England's red-ball cricket."

Former England captain Mike Atherton said the move was a "bold choice".

"To give Brendon McCullum the Test job - a week or so ago, I don't think that was on anybody's radar, so he has not made the obvious choice here, but I think it's a very bold choice actually," Atherton said on Sky Sports News.

"He is a nice fit with Stokes, they both approach the game and play the game in a similar manner."

with agencies

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