New Zealand cricket great Brendon McCullum was hired as head coach of England’s Test team on Thursday in another bold appointment coming soon after the decision to select allrounder Ben Stokes as captain.
The 40-year-old McCullum, who currently coaches Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders, has never been in charge of a test team and only retired from playing in 2019.
He was regarded as the catalyst behind New Zealand’s emergence as a major force in the test game — the Black Caps won the inaugural world test championship last year — and his preference for attacking cricket will be welcomed by Stokes at the start of a new era for England.
“I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes — a formidable coach and captain partnership,” said Rob Key, director of men’s cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board. “Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride.”
McCullum’s first series with England will be against his native New Zealand in June, with the opening test beginning June 2 at Lord’s.
England has won only one of its last 17 tests, a run that includes a humiliating 4-0 series loss in the Ashes Down Under. That sparked a rush of dismissals and resignations — at one stage, England didn’t have a captain, coach or head of men’s cricket — but the leadership roles have been filled now, with Stokes replacing Joe Root as captain and Key the replacement for Ashley Giles.
“He has a recent history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better,” Key said of McCullum, “and I believe he is the person to do that for England’s red-ball cricket.”