Brendon McCullum has been confirmed as the new coach of England’s men’s Test team, having gone into the interview process as an outside bet for the white-ball role and emerged from it as the unanimous choice of the England & Wales Cricket Board’s four-man panel to oversee their planned red-ball reset.
The Test side has won one of its last 17 games and is being overhauled following the dismissal of previous coach Chris Silverwood in January after the team’s abject performances in the Ashes, and the resignation of their captain, Joe Root, after their series defeat in the West Indies in March. Ben Stokes was named as the side’s new captain last month. McCullum has agreed a four-year contract, and will arrive in the UK later in May following the completion of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Indian Premier League campaign. The New Zealander’s first series in charge will be against the Black Caps in June.
“I’d like to say how pleased I am to be given this opportunity to positively contribute to England’s Test cricket set-up and move the team forward into a more successful era,” the 40-year-old said. “In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we’ve confronted them head-on. I’ve enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious. I’m no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment, and I can’t wait to get started. Ben Stokes is the perfect character to inspire change around him, and I look forward to working closely with him to build a successful unit around us.”
McCullum, who will give up his role with KKR at the end of this year’s IPL after three years as head coach, previously coached Trinbago Knight Riders to the 2020 Caribbean Premier League title. Although he has no experience as a coach in the first-class game he captained New Zealand in 31 of his 101 Test matches, starting a process of improvement that culminated, five years after his retirement, in them winning the inaugural World Test Championship last summer. He will certainly be able to identify with England’s current predicament: when he took over New Zealand’s Test captaincy they were ranked eighth, and in his first innings as captain in 2013 they were bowled out for 45 by South Africa.
McCullum is a close friend of Eoin Morgan, England’s white-ball captain, having acted as master of ceremonies at his wedding, and his New Zealand side were seen as the template for the successful reconstruction of England’s limited-overs fortunes following their humiliation at the 2015 ODI World Cup. “I like to pick his brain,” Morgan said in 2019. “As a pure leader, he’s exceptional. New Zealand cricket had embodied playing fun cricket under him. Playing against them, we were a little bit jealous.”
Rob Key, England’s newly-appointed managing director of men’s cricket, said he hoped McCullum and Stokes would make “a formidable partnership”. “It has been a real privilege to get to know him and understand his views and vision for the game,” said Key, who sat on the recruitment panel alongside the ECB’s CEO, Tom Harrison, the strategic advisor, Andrew Strauss, and the performance director, Mo Bobat. “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. We were incredibly fortunate to have a seriously strong list of quality candidates for the post, with Brendon demonstrating he was our No1 choice. Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride.”