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Brendon McCullum: England Test coach jokes Ben Stokes beats him on aggression after series whitewash is secured



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Brendon McCullum gives his reaction to England’s 3-0 series win over New Zealand

Brendon McCullum gives his reaction to England’s 3-0 series win over New Zealand

Brendon McCullum reflected on an “incredible few weeks” as head coach of the England men’s Test team after his side secured a 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand with victory in the third LV= Insurance Test at Headingley.

In an exclusive chat with Sky Sports following England’s seven-wicket triumph on the final day – done in typically quick-fire fashion, the final 113 runs knocked off in 15.2 overs – McCullum praised Ben Stokes’ leadership, saying he was delighted by the camaraderie in the dressing room.

“It has been quite an incredible few weeks,” McCullum said. “Trying to blend together the guys under Stokes’ leadership, with a slightly new look to it, has had some challenges, but the guys have really brought into it.

Highlights from day five of the England vs New Zealand 3rd Test

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Highlights from day five of the England vs New Zealand 3rd Test

Highlights from day five of the England vs New Zealand 3rd Test

“I’m delighted with the camaraderie and application that sits within that dressing room.

“And it needs to be mentioned as well that Joe Root did such an incredible job with this England side leading into this, to hold the fort under what was some pretty tough circumstances.

“It has been a really cool ride. To beat New Zealand is no easy feat – all three Test matches could have gone either way – but, luckily, we were able to grab some of those key moments.”

Joe Root told Michael Atherton it's important England enjoy the series win over New Zealand

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Joe Root told Michael Atherton it’s important England enjoy the series win over New Zealand

Joe Root told Michael Atherton it’s important England enjoy the series win over New Zealand

‘Good start, but won’t always be as rosy’

England’s three consecutive Test match wins against the reigning world Test champions represents a most remarkable turnaround for a team the had won just one of their previous 17 matches.

Asked what he has managed to change since taking over, McCullum said: “In the professional game, sometimes, we can get quite caught up in our own stuff, rather than where you sit within the group and being able to bounce off some of your team-mates.

“My role was very much to force the guys together, to try and give them as much confidence as I can and reinforce the skipper’s messaging.

Brendon McCullum has got off to the perfect start as head coach of the England men's Test team with three-straight wins

Brendon McCullum has got off to the perfect start as head coach of the England men’s Test team with three-straight wins

“I like to give guys as much confidence as I can, so does the skipper. We haven’t had too many hard conversations, as such, so far, but if you’ve got that simple clarity, a clear understanding of people and build those relationships, then you can have those robust conversations when required as well.

“I think it is a pretty simple game. Sometimes we can get caught up in the fear of failure, trying to protect something, rather than actually enjoying the opportunity you’ve got to represent your country.

He added: “I guess that’s where my skills are at, being able to hopefully give some guys some confidence and take away some of the pressures that come with playing top-level sport.

“Hopefully that’s allowed them to then give the best versions of themselves out on the field. It has started well, but it is not going to be as rosy as it is currently.

“We’ve just got to keep remembering these moments, because it shows what we’re capable of. It’s nice to get that early success because it does build that confidence that this can be done.”

Jonny Bairstow hit a huge six to beat New Zealand and seal a 3-0 series win for England

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Jonny Bairstow hit a huge six to beat New Zealand and seal a 3-0 series win for England

Jonny Bairstow hit a huge six to beat New Zealand and seal a 3-0 series win for England

What is ‘Bazball’? | ‘Stokes beats me on aggression’

England’s series win was secured with them becoming the first team in the history of Test cricket to successfully chase three consecutive targets of greater than 250 runs.

The first of those, at Lord’s, saw them chase 277 in 78.5 overs, while the latter two – both in the 290s – were achieved in just 50 and 54.2 overs, respectively. It has led to England’s new aggressive approach being christened ‘Bazball’ – not that the coach knows what that means!

“I don’t know what Bazball is?!” McCullum laughed. “You tell me.”

England captain Ben Stokes was delighted with his side's 3-0 series win over New Zealand and hopes to carry it over to the next Test against India

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England captain Ben Stokes was delighted with his side’s 3-0 series win over New Zealand and hopes to carry it over to the next Test against India

England captain Ben Stokes was delighted with his side’s 3-0 series win over New Zealand and hopes to carry it over to the next Test against India

McCullum also added that Stokes has him beat when it comes to their attacking mindset, with the skipper suggesting England could even clinch victory inside four days at Headingley!

“I’m aggressive, but I think he might have me covered to be honest,” McCullum joked. “He came in even last night and we’d been set 296, with 40 overs left, and he was like ‘we’ll just knock them off tonight – extra half hour as well, it’s only seven an over!’

“He has been absolutely outstanding. He is clearly a leader that the guys want to follow. He is so consistent in his messaging as well, no matter how much is on the line.”

How to get Crawley back to his best?

While England have got off to flying start under McCullum and Stokes’ leadership, Zak Crawley’s struggles at the top of the order have continued, averaging only 14.50 across the series, with a top score of 43.

“I’ll talk to him the same way as if he has come off three hundreds,” McCullum said, giving his backing to the Kent and England opener.

With another disappointing display from Zak Crawley, Nasser Hussain and Simon Doull debate if the batsman should continue in the Test side

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With another disappointing display from Zak Crawley, Nasser Hussain and Simon Doull debate if the batsman should continue in the Test side

With another disappointing display from Zak Crawley, Nasser Hussain and Simon Doull debate if the batsman should continue in the Test side

“To me, he is a rare talent and I don’t think there are too many people in world cricket that can play like he does.

“The simple message I said to him when I first came in and saw him play in the nets, and watched some of his old innings’ – it pretty quickly stood out that he has got something that other players don’t have.

“My message to him was ‘there are 10,000 players out there that can play the other way, there’s only a handful that can play like you do; go out there and be the best version of yourself’. And I’ll continue to try to encourage him to do that.

“We’ve just got to make sure that he’s courageous enough to keep stepping up even if things haven’t necessarily gone that well. I’ve got confidence in him for sure.”

Morgan one of world cricket’s ‘most influential figures’

News also emerged during the final day of the Test at Headingley that England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan is expected to announce his international retirement on Tuesday.

Brendon McCullum praised 'influential' Eoin Morgan as the England captain is expected to announce his retirement from international cricket

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Brendon McCullum praised ‘influential’ Eoin Morgan as the England captain is expected to announce his retirement from international cricket

Brendon McCullum praised ‘influential’ Eoin Morgan as the England captain is expected to announce his retirement from international cricket

McCullum, who is friends with Morgan, having played with him previously at Middlesex and in the IPL, said the England white-ball skipper has had a “remarkable” career.

“He is going to go down as one of the most influential figures in not just English cricket, I think, but in world cricket,” McCullum said.

“What he was able to do with that side, changing the entire attitude and style of cricket they played, it had an impact right around the world.

Watch the best bits from Eoin Morgan's last England ODI century from 2020 against Ireland

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Watch the best bits from Eoin Morgan’s last England ODI century from 2020 against Ireland

Watch the best bits from Eoin Morgan’s last England ODI century from 2020 against Ireland

“He has taken those guys on a journey; look at the likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, these guys are absolute international superstars, and they’ve become those players under the leadership of Eoin Morgan.

“But all good things must come to an end, and I’m sure in time him and I will sit down with a nice bottle of red and reflect on what has been a remarkable career for him.”

Watch day one of the rescheduled fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India, at Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket with coverage starting at 9.30am and play getting under way at 10.30am, on Friday.


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