Watch England take on New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday - Brendon McCullum says England only side that can change Test cricket's "downward path", admits it will be "difficult" trying to beat New Zealand having played huge part in their rise
Thursday 2 June 2022 09:59, UK
Brendon McCullum wants England to revive Test cricket during his spell as men's head coach - saying the global red-ball game is in "big trouble" if Ben Stokes' side are not "competitive and watchable".
McCullum takes over with England having won just one of their previous 17 Test matches, slipped to sixth in the world rankings and tumbled to the foot of the World Test Championship.
The former New Zealand captain told Sky Sports' Michael Atherton England are the only side who can turn around what he calls the longest form's "slightly downward path".
McCullum's first Test in charge is against his native New Zealand, the reigning World Test champions, at Lord's from Thursday, a game you can watch live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am.
Durham fast bowler Matthew Potts will make his Test debut, joining the recalled James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the pace attack.
McCullum said: "Test cricket needs England to be strong, competitive and playing a watchable style of cricket. If not, it is in big trouble.
"I think Test cricket has been on a slightly downward path and the only people who can change that really are England. The appreciation of Test cricket in this part of the world, the history.
"They have a real opportunity to make significant change and hopefully inspire the next generation of cricketers to want to play Test cricket rather than just T20 or the shorter forms of the game.
"I carved my path in the short version of cricket but Test cricket has always been the pinnacle for me, the pinnacle of the sport. I know how hard it is.
"I was lucky enough to play for a number of years and go through the highs and the lows. You come out the other end and still look back on it so fondly, even through all the lows you go through."
Reflecting on his appointment, McCullum said: "It's a great time to take over - a great challenge and one I'm looking forward to.
"There is quite a bit of thirst for change in English cricket and the players throughout the group seem like they are ready to head in a different direction.
"With Stokesy as captain, you have someone at the forefront and we will try and mould it around his style. I think our personalities are quite similar in how we want to see the game played."
McCullum says he will find elements of trying to beat New Zealand "difficult" having played a huge part in their rise as a cricketing nation, including captaining them to the 2015 Cricket World Cup final.
The 40-year-old added: "It's obviously unique that we are coming up against New Zealand first up, a team I know so well, not just tactically but personally.
"I have had a lot of involvement as captain and more recently as a friend and a bit of a mentor to some of them. That is going to be difficult, no doubt, but I've got a job to do.
"That job is to give England the best opportunity to become the best side in the world. It's not going to happen instantly but there is a path we are going to try and go down. Trying to beat New Zealand is part of that path."
McCullum initially looked favourite for the white-ball coach role once new managing director of England men's cricket Rob Key opted to split the positions.
The New Zealander and World Cup-winning white-ball captain Eoin Morgan share a strong friendship, while his previous coaching experience has been in limited-overs cricket.
McCullum said: "The England white-ball team is looking to go from good to great.
"My skills are probably a little bit more suited to trying to pull a team out of a troubled situation and project something forward for the long term.
"The job wasn't on my radar until Rob [Key] rang me.
"I had a lot of variety in my life - media work, a bit of coaching in the IPL - but then I started to think about the opportunity and it became exciting and enticing.
"It's a risk for me but you have to take risks in life and I thought it was worth a crack.
"People would be slightly surprised a cavalier T20 player would take on the big job of coaching the England Test side but people who know me, know I like a big challenge."
Watch the first Test between England and New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday.