ngland’s Test coach Brendon McCullum believes his primary task is to remind his players that “this job is meant to be the greatest time of our life”.
McCullum has recorded six wins out of seven in his first summer in charge, but has played down his role, saying “I don’t really do a lot, to be honest”.
“Just let the guys do what they’re born to do – to play cricket in the style and manner they want, and try to bring the group together and make sure they’re enjoying themselves,” he said.
“Sometimes when you’re playing this game… you start off as a kid and it’s so much fun, and you get thrust into the bright lights and the big cities and the expectations are thrown on you, the enjoyment can go out of the game and it can start to lead to negativity seeping in.
“My job is to ensure that we’re always reminding ourselves that this job is meant to be the greatest time of our life, being a cricketer at the highest level and trying to create memories that you look back over in time. There’s the results, but it’s also the fun and the camaraderie that you build up. Hopefully we’ve been able to achieve that.”
Asked about his own demeanour, McCullum joked: “I think I’m pretty relaxed, except when I’m on the golf course, when my personality is completely opposite.
“I’m pretty relaxed. I’ve had the benefit of a career in cricket as well, with the ups and the downs, and I had a young family early, and you get used to a bit of chaos at times. You find a way to deal with it. I like to keep things pretty relaxed, and the guys seem to enjoy that relaxed nature as well. It seems to be working at the moment, but we’ll see.”
McCullum described England’s summer as “a resounding success”, picking out Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes as success stories. He explained England’s faithful selection process that saw them stick by openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley despite both averaging in the twenties – but added that there are options available to England should they move on.
“These are tough cricket wickets, really tough,” he said. “The last two guys who nailed it at the top of the order [Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook] are both called Sir in this country, so it’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve got to allow these guys the time and opportunity to develop.
“You spend your whole days as a selector, as a coach or a captain trying to catch form, you make things very difficult for. You’ve got to give them an extended period of time, and allow that talent to come out.
“Another thing I’ll say though is that are some very good players out there, and we’ve seen that with some of the guys who have come in. There are certainly some areas we can improve, but overall we’ve got to give it a resounding success.”