Former England captain Andrew Strauss has revealed details around the appointment of Brendon McCullum as England’s new Test coach, saying the former Black Cap aced his interview for the gig.
McCullum was confirmed as England’s new Test coach on Friday after speculation earlier this week connecting him to the role despite his experience in coaching being in white-ball cricket.
Despite that coaching inexperience at Test level, Strauss said McCullum became the clear choice quickly after two days of interviews alongside ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, as well as performance director Mo Bobat and managing director Rob Key.
In fact, Strauss went as far as to say McCullum knocked the process “out of the park”.
“They're about approach, really, and about the reputation that people have and I know he's the sort of guy that the England players will look up to and he'll be able to show them the way,” Strauss said.
“He's done that with New Zealand cricket as captain, he's done that in the short-format tournaments he's been involved with. I think he's going to make a massive impact on English cricket. He's got such clarity of thought and approach.
“He's a guy who keeps the game of cricket very simple but he's got a positive intent in everything he does and that's exactly what the England Test team need right at the moment: some good, strong leadership, some direction.
“I know Brendon is just so excited about the prospect of coming out here and not just trying to take the English cricket team forward but also doing his bit to take Test cricket forward generally.”
The ECB has been on the lookout for a new Test coach after Chris Silverwood was sacked in February following their horror Ashes series in Australia. That loss left them with just one win in their last 17 Tests before they went to the West Indies and lost a three-match series 1-0.
Silverwood’s job was split into two, with a Test coach and white-ball formats coach to replace him and despite initial thoughts leaning towards McCullum taking on the team for the shorter forms, Strauss said McCullum’s positive approach to the game is why he was handed the red ball assignment.
"The first thing is about mindset, and embedding that mindset in the players. There might be a couple of selection changes, players that play in that style naturally, I would have thought. But the most important thing of all is the connection and alignment between him and Ben Stokes, the captain: them forging a strong, productive relationship is going to be crucial," he said.
"He's a very positive guy with a very clear mindset and he will embed that in that test team at a time when confidence is a bit low and people need a bit of clarity and direction. He's an impressive guy. He can't wait to start – and quite frankly, I can't wait for him to start.
"He was just unbelievably ambitious [as a player]. He used to run down the wicket against some of the quickest bowlers in the world, he always took the positive option, he wasn't scared of failing.
"He wasn't scared of making mistakes and I think that's what this test team needs a bit at the moment. They need someone to back them, they need someone to give them confidence and inspire them and they need to actually break the shackles and realise how good they are and I think he's the perfect person to do that.”
McCullum and New Zealand-born Stokes will coincidentally face the Black Caps for their first tests in charge of England with the series starting at Lords on June 2.