Atherton hails 'bold and imaginative' McCullum hire by England

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Former England captain Michael Atherton has praised the "bold and imaginative" appointment of Brendon McCullum by England.

McCullum was named England's new Test head coach on Thursday, replacing Chris Silverwood after his dismissal in the wake of the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.

Rob Key decided to bring in separate Test and white-ball head coaches after he was appointed as managing director of England men's cricket last month and chose McCullum for the longer form of the game.

"I think it's a very bold and imaginative choice, and an inspiring choice from Rob Key," Atherton told Sky Sports.

"Giving Ben Stokes the captaincy was the obvious choice and so his first big decision was to give Brendon McCullum the Test job.

"A week or so ago I don't think that was on anybody's radars, so he's not made the obvious choice here, but I think it's a very bold choice."

McCullum captained New Zealand and has coached in limited overs cricket in the Caribbean and Indian Premier Leagues, but this is his first coaching job in Test cricket.

Atherton does not think that lack of experience is a problem, however.

"I don't think it's a concern. Some other people within the professional coaching environment may think so," the former Lancashire batsman said.

"His limited coaching experience has come in the IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders and in the CPL with their sister team. But he did play 100 Tests, scored a Test match triple hundred and he was very significant in Test cricket in his own right.

"As captain, he really led New Zealand into a brave new era, from the moment he took over – in Cape Town 2013 – the very first innings New Zealand were bowled out for 45. It was a really low ebb and a very difficult transition from Ross Taylor.

"But after that, he led boldly and fearlessly, and transformed that New Zealand team to the point which he laid the foundations for Kane Williamson's team that became World Test champions and have been very significant players in ICC events. So as a captain and as a leader, he's got plenty of experience in Test cricket."

Atherton also believes the relationship between McCullum and new England skipper Ben Stokes should thrive given both have similar aggressive approaches to the game.

"He's a nice fit with Stokes, they both approach the game and play the game in a similar manner and they'll look to give very clear message, captain and coach, and show they're singing from the same hymn sheet to a team you now expect to be given a bit of freedom and licence to play," he said.

"Neither Stokes nor McCullum are shy characters when it comes to playing the game of cricket, they like to take the game on and play it aggressively.

"One assumes that McCullum as a coach is going to be very similar to McCullum as a player and captain."

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