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McCullum says aggressive England have set 'alarm bells' ringing

Greenwatch News Desk Cricket 2022-06-28, 10:25pm

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Leeds, United Kingdom, 28 June  - Brendon McCullum believes England's aggressive performances against his native New Zealand have sent a warning to their rivals in Test cricket.

McCullum's first series as England's red-ball head coach ended in a 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand.

The hosts made short work of seemingly stiff chases of 277, 299 and 296 in victories at Lord's, Trent Bridge and Headingley, scoring their runs at a rapid rate of 4.54 an over.

It was a marked contrast to England's woeful run of just one win in 17 Tests prior to the campaign against the Black Caps.

England's dynamic performances in the New Zealand series served as vindication of the fearless approach championed by their new leadership duo of McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.

"The world Test champions were a formidable opponent to overcome and the alarm bells have probably gone off somewhat around world cricket as to how this team is going to play," said McCullum following England's seven-wicket win at Headingley.

"When Ben'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.

- 'Pushing the envelope' -

"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.

"Obviously you want to be the number one team in the world and you want to achieve the ultimate success, which is being world Test champions, winning the Ashes and beating the top teams consistently.

"That's the end goal, but what we need to do first of all is enjoy what we've been able to achieve over the last three weeks and understand what we've achieved as well. Cherish it."

The 40-year-old McCullum may have been one of the most attacking players of his generation but he believes Stokes needs no lessons from him in that regard.

"I'm aggressive but Ben's got me covered, which is saying something," he said.

England don't have long to wait to put their new philosophy into operation again, with India their next opponents at Edgbaston starting Friday in a Test delayed from last year by the tourists' Covid-19 concerns.

McCullum, however, expects all-rounder Stokes to rise to the challenge, saying: "I think the timing of him getting the captaincy is perfect. I know it's early days, but he's exceeded my expectations already to be honest.

"His messaging has been very consistent and very articulate as well. He doesn't speak all the time, but when he does speak, it's bang on.

"The skipper has taken them on a journey, I've tried to fill in the gaps
where needed and they've got instant gratification for that change.

"Enjoy the game with your mates and understand you have a very finite time as an international cricketer, so you should try and enjoy rather than being paralysed by the fear of failure or the noise."