Brendon McCullum has emerged as a surprise contender for the vacant role as England’s Test coach following two days of interviews at Lord’s.
McCullum, who is in his third season as Kolkata Knight Riders’ coach at the IPL, has never coached a first-class game and was widely expected to be a candidate for the white-ball job, with the ECB splitting the main coaching roles down format lines due to England’s jam-packed schedule and the growing divergence between their sides.
However, several British newspapers reported on Tuesday night that McCullum has now come under consideration for the Test job following the first tranche of interviews at the start of this week. It is possible that an appointment will be ratified before the end of the week, with England’s first Test of the summer against New Zealand – McCullum’s home country – on 2 June.
McCullum’s coaching experience has come exclusively in the limited-overs game, but as captain. He was a key part of the leadership group that brought about New Zealand’s revival as a Test side along with coach Mike Hesson from 2012 to 2016.
Rob Key, ECB’s new Managing Director of men’s cricket, has led the interview process and revealed during his first press conference at Lord’s that he had sought opinions on the Test side from Eoin Morgan, McCullum’s close friend and Knight Riders’ captain last year during their run to the final.
“I’ve spoken to Eoin about red-ball cricket as well,” Key said. “I asked his opinion. You want good people with good brains around you to work stuff out, so Eoin Morgan is someone I would speak to about so many different things.”
McCullum’s attacking style would chime with how both Key and Ben Stokes, England’s new Test captain, play the game. After scoring 145 off 79 balls in his final Test against Australia, McCullum said he wanted to be remembered “as a good team man… a guy who played for the right reasons and who, if in doubt, was prepared to take the positive option”.
Key has also previously confirmed that he would be willing to let an England head coach work in the IPL if necessary, saying: “I would much rather have the best person for 10 months of the year than someone not as good for 12.”
Whether such logic applies to a Test coach as well as a white-ball coach remains to be seen, while McCullum’s job at Knight Riders may come under scrutiny after a poor season to date in which they seem highly likely to miss out on the playoffs.
Other leading candidates for the Test role are understood to include Gary Kirsten, Simon Katich and Graham Ford, while Paul Collingwood is among the applicants for the white-ball job.