England name Kiwi great McCullum as new Test coach

Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was named coach of England’s Test side on Thursday, with a brief to shake the team out of its deep malaise.

McCullum will leave his job in charge of Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders to take charge of a red-ball side that has fallen to bottom place in the World Test Championship after a dire run of one win in 17 matches.

Leading the revival is a sizeable task for the 40-year-old, who has never before coached at first-class or Test level, but he is renowned as one of the sport’s most progressive thinkers and dynamic leaders.

As New Zealand skipper he set the side on the path to their current golden era – last year they won the inaugural World Test Championship and they have reached the finals of the past two 50-over World Cups.

McCullum saw off a strong field to earn what is understood to be a four-year contract, edging out candidates including Gary Kirsten, whose credentials with South Africa and India had once made him favourite to land the job.

England director of men’s cricket Rob Key, recently appointed, said he was looking forward to seeing the New Zealander team up with new captain Ben Stokes, who replaced long-serving skipper Joe Root last month.

“I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes – a formidable coach and captain partnership,” said Key. “Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride. I believe his appointment will be good for England’s Test team.

“He has a recent history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better, and I believe he is the person to do that for England’s red-ball cricket. We were incredibly fortunate to have a seriously strong list of quality candidates for the post, with Brendon demonstrating he was our number one choice.”

McCullum, who won 101 Test caps and retired from international cricket in 2016, was adamant he could bolster the fortunes of an England team still reeling from a 4-0 Ashes hammering in Australia and a recent 1-0 defeat in the Caribbean.

“In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we’ve confronted them head-on,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious.

“I’m no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment and I can’t wait to get started.”

Pending visa approvals, McCullum will arrive in Britain in time to lead England in a three-Test series against his home country next month.

England are still searching for a white-ball head coach, with internal candidate Paul Collingwood strongly tipped among another strong pool of applicants. (AFP)