Wellington: Veteran England seamer Stuart Broad says coach Brendon McCullum’s focus on fun has not just revitalised the team’s Test fortunes but could grow global interest in the game.
Broad is set to return for the two-Test series against New Zealand starting in Mount Maunganui on Thursday, having missed the 3-0 series win in Pakistan in December following the birth of his daughter.
The 36-year-old said returning to the England set-up under former Black Caps captain McCullum had been a pleasure.
Riding high on the back of nine wins from 10 Tests overseen by the attack-minded coach, England’s players have spent much of their two weeks of preparation focusing on team bonding, including countless rounds of golf.
“It’s been one of the best, most enjoyable starts to a tour that I’ve ever had in my time,” Broad told journalists.
“I think Baz (McCullum) has got a great mentality for the group, and life really.
“In this environment, I don’t think I’ve ever heard stats or numbers mentioned once. It’s all about going with the feel of the game and taking the positive option at all times.”
Broad said McCullum’s approach contrasted with the successful regime under Andy Flower, when England climbed to the top of the world Test rankings after winning the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia.
“We got to number one through discipline, through organisation and knowing exactly what our roles were,” Broad said.
“Andrew Strauss was captain, he wanted everyone to go at under three (runs) an over and bat a long time. All our batters averaged over 40.
“So different styles do work ... but there’s no doubt this has been the most fun environment that I’ve been a part of and I think it’s because that is almost Baz’s number one priority.”
Broad believed other nations will seriously consider copying England’s buccaneering approach, which he said would be great for the game at a time when Twenty20 leagues threaten to steal players and eyeballs away from Test cricket.
“Baz knows that Test cricket and the world game is under a bit of pressure. It’s much easier to go and play for a T20 franchise, where there’s no pressure on you to play particularly.
“But if you can create an environment that’s hugely rewarding, then it really does make Test cricket the pinnacle.”