England turn to Kiwi great McCullum to revive Test fortunes

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Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was named the coach of England s Test side on Thursday, with a brief to shake the team out of its deep malaise.

McCullum will leave his job in charge of Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders to take charge of a red-ball side that has fallen to bottom place in the World Test Championship after a dire run of one win in 17 matches.

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Leading the revival is a sizeable task for the 40-year-old, who has never coached at first-class or Test level, but is renowned as one of the sport s most progressive thinkers and dynamic leaders.

As New Zealand skipper he set the side on the path to their current golden era — last year they won the inaugural World Test Championship and they have reached the finals of the past two 50-over World Cups.

McCullum, who will team up with new captain Ben Stokes, saw off a strong field to earn a four-year deal, edging out candidates including former South Africa and India coach Gary Kirsten.

The hard-hitting batsman, who won 101 Test caps before retiring from international cricket in 2016, was adamant he could bolster the fortunes of an England team still reeling from a 4-0 Ashes hammering in Australia and a recent 1-0 defeat in the Caribbean.

“In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we ve confronted them head-on,” he said.

“I ve enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key (England director of cricket) about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious.

“I m no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment and I can t wait to get started.

“Ben Stokes is the perfect character to inspire change around him, and I look forward to working closely with him to build a successful unit around us.”

Key added he was looking forward to seeing the New Zealander work with Stokes, who replaced long-serving skipper Joe Root last month.

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