Brendon McCullum: England close in on New Zealand great as shock Test coach appointment

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In the frame: New Zealand great Brendon McCullum looks set to become England’s new Test coach  (Getty Images)
In the frame: New Zealand great Brendon McCullum looks set to become England’s new Test coach (Getty Images)

England are edging towards appointing the legendary former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as their new Test head coach.

Recently-appointed managing director Rob Key has been leading interviews for two coaching positions, Test and white-ball, this week.

McCullum has emerged as the favourite for the Test role, with terms being discussed and an appointment expected by the end of the week.

South African Gary Kirsten and Australian Simon Katich had been considered the favourites for the Test role, but now look more likely to compete with Paul Collingwood for the limited-overs job. Collingwood remains the strong favourite for that role, which is not expected to be announced at the same time as the Test appointment.

McCullum, 40, retired from international cricket in 2016 (making the fastest hundred in Test history, from 54 balls, in his final appearance) but remained on the T20 circuit until 2019, when he moved into coaching and punditry.

McCullum’s short coaching career has been exclusively in the T20 format (with the Knight Riders franchise in Kolkata and Trinidad), so it had been expected that he was primarily a candidate for England’s white-ball coaching role. That would have paired him with captain and close friend Eoin Morgan, at whose wedding he was master of ceremonies.

But McCullum enjoyed an illustrious Test career, playing 101 matches and scoring New Zealand’s only triple century in the format, against India in 2014. As captain, he is credited with transforming the Black Caps’ fortunes and setting them on the path to winning the inaugural World Test Championship last year.

His New Zealand team’s approach at the 2015 World Cup, when they lost in the final to Australia, was the inspiration for Morgan’s white-ball revolution with England later that year, which led to a World Cup triumph in 2019.

McCullum retired from international cricket in 2016, but stayed on in the T20 format before becoming a coach and pundit (AFP via Getty Images)
McCullum retired from international cricket in 2016, but stayed on in the T20 format before becoming a coach and pundit (AFP via Getty Images)

McCullum is currently with Kolkata, last season’s finalists, at the IPL. But, with two group games remaining, they appear certain to miss out on the play-offs, which would see McCullum’s season end next Wednesday, and allow him to take up his new post in time for the First Test against his homeland on June 2.

The New Zealander’s attacking, aggressive outlook on the game would appear a good fit with that of Ben Stokes, the new Test captain.

McCullum’s inexperience would make his appointment a risk, and he is unlikely to be a technical coach for England’s Test team. That would leave Key needing to get the remainder of his backroom staff right, especially when it comes to batting, which has been such a problem in recent years.

One option would be to use Graham Ford, who expressed an interest in coaching the Test team, as a specialist batting coach. The former South Africa, Sri Lanka and Ireland coach is credited by a number of former English batters – including Key and Kevin Pietersen – as being a transformative influence on their games.

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