Brendon McCullum once thrilled crowds in New Zealand with his batting fireworks but the former Black Caps skipper may get a different reception as coach of England as he puts ‘Bazball’ to the Test in its spiritual home.
New Zealand face England in a two-Test series starting in Mount Maunganui next week, with the battle between McCullum’s free-hitting batters and the hosts’ formidable stable of quicks set to provide ample entertainment for home fans.
“It should be alright. They’re going to be entertained at least whether New Zealand win or whether we win,” McCullum told a media conference in New Zealand on Thursday.
“Obviously people are patriotic and want their own team to win.
“But this is one of the reasons that we’re in the job that we’re in - is you’ve got to make Test cricket entertaining (and) want to ensure people walk away with a great experience from the game.”
In partnership with captain Ben Stokes, a New Zealand-born kindred spirit, McCullum has helped make Test cricket more watchable amid fears the longest format is in terminal decline.
Under their leadership, England have won nine of their last 10 Tests - including a 3-0 series whitewash of the Black Caps at home - with an attacking brand of cricket and fearless pursuit of victory.
McCullum said it had been a “quite amazing” time since he took charge last May and that there was no reason the good times could not continue.
“We can take forward some of the lessons that we’ve learnt from the past 10-11 months and it’ll give us the opportunity to do something pretty special in the next little while,” he said.
“I don’t think we have to do too much different. Guys are enjoying their cricket.
“Wherever they go they’ve got smiles on their faces, they’re laughing and joking.
“We know when they put their head down and start working, they put in the yards. That’s all you can ask for ... If you do that you don’t know where the ceiling is.”
Hosts New Zealand had a relatively poor 2022 in Tests but their bowlers could prove a handful on their home pitches.
McCullum said it would be interesting to see how his team would respond to sustained pressure, having not yet had that under his watch.
He took heart from England’s positive demeanour in the dressing room in the wake of their defeat to South Africa at Lord’s.
England brushed off the loss quickly, winning the next two Tests and the series.
“You would not have known that we lost that Test match,” said McCullum.
“I think that allowed us to be able to then bounce back without any baggage.
“You can’t guarantee success but if you keep bringing that same consistent attitude and belief within the group, you’re going to give yourself the best chance.”