Sunday , July 3 2022

Jonny Bairstow ‘excited and intrigued’ by England’s McCullum appointment | England cricket team

Jonny Bairstow has said he is “excited and intrigued” by the arrival of Brendon McCullum as England’s Test coach and by the prospect of a new era for his team.

Bairstow arrived in England last Monday following Punjab Kings’ elimination from the Indian Premier League, throwing him into a whirlwind turnaround as he prepares for England’s first Test against New Zealand, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday.

“I’m definitely intrigued because of the blend of how he played his cricket and his coaching style and how that all fits together, the successes he had on the field and also off the field, and how that fits with Test cricket and our English game,” Bairstow said of McCullum.

“It’s about taking wickets, about going out and winning key periods of the game, winning games of cricket. That’s what we want to be doing. It takes time to play in that kind of fashion but I’m sure there’ll be things that rub off within the next weeks, months and years.”

There is also the prospect of what Bairstow called “an exciting partnership” developing between McCullum and the team’s new captain, Ben Stokes, though he does not expect to see a great transformation in his teammate.

“I don’t think he’ll change,” Bairstow said.

“I think over a period of time now the experiences that he’s had, within his cricket career, within his life, all stand him in good stead. And those experiences, for good or bad, will also enable him to maintain his composure when it is tested.”

The 32-year-old said he is “delighted with how I have come out of the winter”, having topped England’s batting averages in the Ashes – where he played only the third and fourth matches – and produced his highest Test score in nearly six years during the tour of West Indies, before competing in the IPL.

Joe Root and Brendon McCullum at Lord’s
Joe Root and Brendon McCullum at Lord’s as they prepare England for the first Test. Photograph: Philip Brown/Getty Images

“Obviously I was disappointed not to start in Australia but I was pleased with the way I reacted and also the way I played. Not getting easy runs – when you have to get the hard runs, they are the rewarding runs. When you have to score the tough runs and stand up for the side, that’s the bit I was most proud of. That’s the exciting part.”

Though he has had only a few weeks away from cricket since the start of last summer Bairstow – who McCullum has confirmed will bat at No 5 – said the idea of taking time off after returning from India, where players’ movement was tightly restricted amid the continued threat of Covid disruptions, “hadn’t even come into my mind”.

He said: “I’m happy with where my body’s at physically. Hopefully that’s now the end of bubbles, which is an excitement as well because that gives you an added amount of freshness, to be able to do some more normal things – to just leave your hotel, or have conversations other than on Zoom. So it’s exciting to be back at Lord’s, and come Thursday it’ll be absolutely fizzing.”

With the batting lineup apparently set, the only uncertainty concerning England’s team is among the bowlers. Durham’s Matt Potts, who with 35 wickets in six County Championship matches is the country’s in-form seamer, has summoned his family to Lord’s in case he makes his debut.

“This wasn’t at all on the radar at the start of the year so it would be a great moment – the pinnacle of cricket at the home of cricket,” he said. “I am honestly going to change nothing about what’s got me here – I’m just going to run in and bowl hard, bowl my kind of areas and see if that works.”

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New Zealand announced a 15-man squad on Monday for the three-Test series, keeping Michael Bracewell as a reserve in case of complications in Henry Nicholls’ recovery from a calf injury.

Gary Stead, the team’s coach, said on Monday that the left-hander “is progressing really well, but at the moment he’s an unlikely starter”, while a late decision will be made on Trent Boult, who arrived in England on Monday following his participation the IPL final with Rajasthan Royals on Sunday.

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