There’s a truism in the saying that a captain or a coach is only as good as the players under them. If the players are not good enough, no matter how brilliant a captain or a coach is, the team is not going to be successful. That said, a captain and a coach can make a change in the mindset, approach and attitude of the players towards the game and that could lead to better results. This factor is clearly visible in the England cricket team ever since Brendon McCullum took over as the coach and Ben Stokes replaced Joe Root as the English captain. Their approach to a problem or to a situation has been in total contrast to what was there before the duo was put in charge of English cricket.

The decision to appoint McCullum as the coach was a truly bold one, especially for English cricket, which has always had its theories and traditions about how things should be done. While there is no doubt that there are some traditions which are good to be maintained, theories need to be sacrificed on the altar of practicality.

By appointing a person without any coaching degrees, which has been a tradition to ensure jobs for the old boys network in English cricket, Rob Key, the new Managing Director for England cricket, took a call that many traditionalists did not agree with. McCullum also did not have any experience of coaching an international team, and so the English media held its breath not knowing what was in store for the team.

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Key would definitely have been keyed up by Eoin Morgan, the captain of the English white ball team, who has often said that the transformation of the English white ball team started when it played New Zealand under Brendon McCullum’s captaincy in 2015 where it tried to replicate the Kiwi way of playing the white ball game. New Zealand had come to England a month or so after being the runner-up in the ICC World Cup that Australia won. The Kiwis’ brand of audacious cricket was like a gambler going for broke and it seemed to have struck a chord in Morgan’s mind. The Irishman, captaining England, adopted the approach for his team and England went on to win the one-day series in a thrilling manner, chasing down 300-plus scores regularly. England, which had been knocked out of that World Cup at the league stage, hasn’t looked back since then and is today a team that nobody underestimates any more.

The predictability that was so much a part of English cricket, bound as it seemed to be by its theories, went out of the window as Morgan encouraged his team to go out and just slam the ball. Morgan was one of the cleanest and longest striker of the white ball and led by example.

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This is exactly the approach that the England Test team is displaying in the red-ball game and in doing so, it is taking the game by the scruff of its neck and turning it around. The two prime exponents of this attitude are the skipper Stokes, who has always been a naturally attacking player, and Jonny Bairstow, who has taken to it like a duck takes to water, and, in fact, has taken it to stratospheric heights with great results for England. The crowds are loving it and you can be assured that the grounds in England will be full from now on, especially when England is likely to bat.

Of course, it’s early days and how the English team copes with the turning pitches in the sub-continent and the pacy , bouncy ones in Australia and South Africa remains to be seen but as another truism tells us, well begun is half done.