‘We will only know when our approach has gone too far when we lose’

Brendon McCullum said that England would only know when they had gone too far in their audacious new approach when it ended up with them suffering a defeat.

England scored at a run rate of 4.54 an over during their three Tests against New Zealand, half a run per over quicker than in any previous Test series of three or more Tests.

“The alarm bells have probably gone off somewhat around world cricket as to how this team is going to play,” said England’s Test coach McCullum after England’s 3-0 series win. “Let’s enjoy the moment and see what unfolds in the next little while. It’s exciting.

“I hope we take it too far because then we’ll know exactly where that line is. Until you do that, you’re not really sure. We’ve seen it with the England white-ball stuff – there have been times where they’ve probably pushed too hard, and then they know. I think it’ll be the same with us, and we’ve got to keep exploring what that line is.

“It’s not just about batting, either. If you look at how we’ve fielded and how we’ve bowled as well. Some of the field placements that the skipper’s had in place and the mentality the guys have had is constantly to try and chase wickets.”

McCullum said that England’s lean run in Test cricket before he and Ben Stokes were appointed as coach and captain – winning just one Test in 17 – had allowed the pair to make radical changes.

‘Stokes has exceeded my expectations already’

“I think taking over this job… there was a thirst for change. When your results haven’t been good, people are more receptive to change,” he said.

“I know it’s early days, but [Stokes has] exceeded my expectations already to be honest. I’m aggressive but he’s got me covered, which is saying something.”

When England were set 296 to win the third Test, with a possible 47 extra overs remaining, if England had claimed the extra half hour: “His message to the group was knock this off tonight’,” McCullum said.

“What we’ve seen on the field, when we’re fielding and he’s out there captaining, he’s constantly making plays which I think is great because it means at least we’re in control regardless of what the scoreboard says. Then when he’s batting, he’s pushing the envelope as well which is sending a message to not just our dressing room but to other dressing rooms around the world that this is how we’re going to play. He’s been fabulous so far.”

McCullum also echoed Stokes in saying that he hopes that players in the County Championship follow the Test side’s lead.

“If I were a young player around county cricket and I saw what our number five for England is currently doing and the role and how he’s encouraged to play that way then I’d probably look at trying to play like that myself to ensure that I would get noticed as well,” McCullum said, saying that the side were not keen on more traditional top-order batsmen.

“At the moment, it’s probably not what we’re after but there may be a time when it is,” he said. “I just look at the players we’ve got and I think they fit the bill for what we’re trying to achieve and the style we want to play as a team.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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