SPO_220629 MCCULLUM ANIS-1656527810270
England coach Brendon McCullum giving throwdowns using a sidearm. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

England had won just three Tests in their last 18 games that began last summer against New Zealand in June 2021 and were sitting at the bottom of the World Test Championship points table. Joe Root resigned as England captain, despite being the leading run-scorer with 1,700 runs, but the results were not going his team’s way.

Ben Stokes was made England’s new Test captain, but more importantly the Robert Key, Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket, made a big call to bring in Brendon McCullum as the head coach for the Test team, replacing Chris Silverwood, who resigned after the 4-0 ashes loss to Australia. And my word how fast things have turned around for team England. They have whitewashed the same Kiwis 3-0 this summer at their home. And mind you in all three Tests New Zealand were ahead — be it at Lord’s, Nottingham and Leeds — in all three and England bounced back by playing fearless and aggressive brand of cricket, not worried about losing.

No fear of loss

This has happened because of the belief and confidence given by the new coach McCullum, who has asked them to play an attacking brand of cricket and not fearing about the result. There is clarity in the English dressing room than confusion. He believes not every time they might come out successful playing this way, but he believes in every player who is in the squad and backs them to deliver.

The former New Zealand captain keeps it simple when he speaks to the players and does not make it stressful and stays behind the limelight instead of hogging it. He does not teach techniques and confuse players, but wants the players to play the same style before other teams catch up with this technique they have brought in Tests.

Three players have stood out in the series — Jonny Bairstow, who scored two whirlwind hundred, Jack leach, who took his first 10-wicket haul, and newcomer Mathew Potts, picking 14 wickets in his debut series. When he was asked about the poor form Zak Crawley, McCullum said: “I have seen him scoring two brilliant centuries and those were special and that’s why he is in the team and I back him to the core.”

Crediting the players

James Anderson, who missed the last Test due to an ankle injury, said McCullum has made him feel 10-foot tall. But the coach does not want to take the credit and said the timing was right, there was a thirst among the players and they have delivered. He credited Stokes for taking them on the victory path and as a coach he had just filled the gaps where needed.

It might not happen always but when it will, which has in the last three Tests, the results are in front of you. He wants the players to enjoy this moment and be in it rather than reflecting what’s coming next.

The next challenge for team England is team India for the last Test at Birmingham, which India are leading 2/1 and knows the Men in Blue will be well prepared than the Kiwis, who were caught cold by this new style. McCullum hopes and believes his team won’t change their style irrespective of the opposition.

He signed off by saying “Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s enjoy the moment and see what unfolds in the next series. It’s exciting.”

That’s the Baz Ball effect on team England.