Brendon McCullum, who has never coached in first-class cricket but has captained the New Zealand Test team, is likely to be appointed as England’s Test coach following two days of interviews at Lord’s.
The former New Zealand captain has emerged as the favourite for the role of vacant England’s men’s head coach position. He was interviewed at Lord’s earlier this week and the official announcement of his appointment could be made in coming days.
McCullum, who is currently the head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League for the third consecutive year, had never coached a first-class match. He was widely rumoured to be the white-ball coach, with England going for a split-coaching route due to a packed schedule.
Several British media houses reported on Tuesday night that McCullum is in the running for the Test job following the first portion of interviews. An official announcement could be made by the end of the week, with England’s first Test of the home summer on June 2 approaching fast.
McCullum’s coaching experience has come in white-ball cricket exclusively but as a captain, he had played a crucial role in the revival of the New Zealand Test side during 2012-2016.
Rob Key, the ECB’s new managing director of men’s cricket, has been leading the process of finding the right candidates for coaching roles. He revealed in his first press conference that he had sought opinions on the Test side from Eoin Morgan, who happens to be McCullum’s close friend and the former captain of KKR.
“I’ve spoken to Eoin about red-ball cricket as well. I asked his opinion. You want good people with good brains around you to work stuff out, so Eoin Morgan is someone I would speak to about so many different things,”Key said.
McCullum’s coaching style is in line with the attacking playing style Ben Stokes, England’s new Test captain possesses. He is known for his attacking approach even in Test cricket, where he had hammered 145 off 79 in his final match and said he wanted to be remembered “as a good team man… a guy who played for the right reasons and who, if in doubt, was prepared to take the positive option”.
The questions around conflict of roles as the Test coach and IPL head coach were already cleared, with Key confirming that he would be willing to let England head coach go to IPL. This is in contrast to his stance on the players, who he thinks should not be allowed to play in the tournament.
“You can’t just have blanket rules for everything, you have got to look at each individual case and think about what is the best thing for us to do here. I would much rather have the best person for ten months of the year than someone not as good for 12,”he added.
However, it may not come to that, as according to recent reports, McCullum is set to leave KKR after the IPL 2022. His role at the franchise has come under scrutiny for various reasons, from questionable tactics to player management to on-field performance of the team as they have lost seven out of 12 matches and are staring at group-stage exit.
Meanwhile, other candidates for England’s Test coaching job include Simon Katich, Gary Kirsten and Graham Ford. For the white-ball role, Paul Collingwood is amongst the applicants.