London, May 27 (IANS): Brendon McCullum, England's new red-ball coach, believes his team has the gumption to reverse the "downward trend" of red-ball cricket across the world.
McCullum, the former New Zealand captain, has been appointed head coach of the England men's red-ball team in a bid to improve their sagging fortunes in the format, with just one win in the last 17 matches. His first assignment coincidentally will be against New Zealand, in a three-match series starting from Lord's on June 2.
"If you look at my career as well, I was able to play a fair amount of red-ball cricket as well, and while I've been lucky enough to earn a good living out of the white-ball game around the world and franchise cricket. But I think for me red-ball cricket has always been the pinnacle of the sport, if you probably look at where the game sits currently, it's probably on a slight bit of a downward trend and to me the nation that can really change that is England," said McCullum to Sky Sports News.
"Because of the tradition of Test cricket here in England and I guess the fan following and the support that it gets in this country. For us to be competitive in Test cricket, I think will go a long way in trying to be able to hopefully just shift that a little bit in terms of the perception of red-ball cricket moving forward," added McCullum.
McCullum also hailed new Test skipper, all-rounder Ben Stokes as a really strong leader while saying that he will be more of a man-management and tactical coach. "I certainly don't coach technically. I understand the technique obviously but for me, it's more around tactics and man-management and trying to provide the right environment for the team to try and go out there and be the best versions of themselves."
"So I think with Stokesy (Stokes) as captain we've got a really strong leader, sort of a 'follow me' type of captain and so I think my job will be to try and ensure that we're consistent with a lot of our messaging. I'll look after the guys inside the environment as well and try and allow them to really grow at a speed which they might not have got to previously, so it's a big challenge."
McCullum, 40, backed Stokes to be the right man for Test captaincy citing the similarities between him and himself. "I've loved watching Stokesy play cricket over the years. He's one of those real characters of the game for who the harder it is, the more they step up. Some people are born with those qualities, and I think he's certainly one of those guys."
"I'm looking forward to working with him and there are going to be some robust conversations at times. I'll probably have to be more plugging of gaps sometimes rather than in some previous roles I've had in leadership or captaincy, where I've probably been a bit more like Stokesy at times."
McCullum acknowledged that it was a big risk for people in England to hand him the red-ball coaching job but he believes in his own abilities despite having coached majorly in T20 franchise cricket, with his recent stint coming with Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2022.
"Not much of an issue that is (on no red-ball coaching experience), will find out in time. I'm confident in the skills that I've got and I'm confident in the group that we have to start things off as well."
"Obviously it might take a little while to become completely adjusted to the methods and the ways over here and it might take some time for guys to become adjusted to me as well, but I'm looking forward to it. For me it was a big risk taken by everyone but, you don't get anywhere unless you take a couple of risks."
"You look at the players around English cricket, there is so much talent there. There are some guys who have probably been disengaged and some guys who are yet to be discovered as well. It's certainly not short on talent and when you add some world-class players who have had incredible careers, it became an appealing target."