Brendon McCullum: New England Test coach wants to avoid rotation

By Stephan ShemiltChief cricket writer at Lord's
Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum played 101 Tests for New Zealand

New Test coach Brendon McCullum says "his" England will pick their best team at every opportunity, rather than resting and rotating players.

England spent much of last year rotating the Test team, partly in response to the demands of Covid-19.

"I'll probably get in trouble, but I like to pick the best team every time," McCullum told BBC Sport.

"My job will be to plan as if you'll live forever, but live as if you'll die tomorrow."

The 40-year-old was speaking to the media for the first time since being appointed Test coach earlier this month.

His first Test in charge, against his native New Zealand, begins at Lord's on Thursday.

Veteran pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been recalled to the England squad after being left out of the series defeat in West Indies in March.

Aged 39 and 35 respectively, with 321 caps and 1,117 wickets between them, Anderson and Broad have played together in only 10 of England's past 26 Tests.

McCullum, however, would have no hesitation in playing them in the same XI.

"Why not? They can work together," he said. "They have had successful careers together.

"There might have been times when the combination might not have been as good as everyone hoped, but there are circumstances around that - there might not have been enough runs, or they were bowling in benign conditions. I'm certainly not against picking them together."

England have won only one of their past 17 Tests. The series against New Zealand marks the beginning of a new era with McCullum working alongside newly installed Test captain Ben Stokes.

The former New Zealand skipper was known for his aggressive batting and innovative captaincy. He sees similarities between himself and Stokes.

"He's going to be a wonderful leader," said McCullum, who played 101 Tests for his country. "He plays the game how I like it to be played and puts bums on seats.

"He might fly. He might grab the captaincy and go to a whole new level again. We'll just play what we see and feel in that moment - and I'm sure the relationship between Stokesy and I will really flourish."

With England winless in their past five Test series, McCullum says he is aware of the "big job" in front of him.

However, he said he will not attempt to reverse England's fortunes by expecting every player to copy his attacking style.

"I'm very different as a coach to how I was as a player," said McCullum, whose previous coaching experience is in T20 leagues in India and the Caribbean.

"I like to allow guys to get to where they need to, to realise their potential rather than play how I played. I'd never want anyone to do that - that comes with an immense amount of disappointment at times. It's not for everyone, that style.

"Your job as coach is to understand everyone's game, understand them as people, get to know them and understand their aspirations. You try to piece that all together for one common goal."

And McCullum, who led New Zealand to the 50-over World Cup final in 2015, expects some "difficult emotions" when he lines up against the world Test champions next week.

"Obviously I have knowledge of the New Zealand guys. We've been on a lot of great journeys together," he added.

"I have a job to do here. If we expect New Zealand to play well, then that means we'll have to play a little bit better."

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