Brendon McCullum has no negative bone in his body, adaptability will be key: Dinesh Karthik

Brendon McCullum has “no negative bone in his body” but whether he succeeds in his new job as head coach of England Test team, to an extent, could depend on how well he adapts to coaching in red-ball cricket after managing T20 franchises, feels Dinesh Karthik.

Karthik teamed up with McCullum during their stint together in the IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders — McCullum and Karthik were coach and captain of the franchise respectively in the 2019 season.

The Indian wicketkeeper-batter expects McCullum to bring a positive attitude to the England Test team.

“The one thing I can tell you in the enormous amounts of time I’ve spent with him is that there is no negative bone in his body,” Karthik said on the ICC Review.

“He is somebody who wants to do everything in a positive manner.” “So it’s going to be very interesting when Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum meet up and figure out what’s the positive way for England cricket to do things.”

McCullum is still an inexperienced coach in the international circuit, and Karthik believes he will have to adapt to the role.

“I think there will be certain things that will be definitely new to Brendon McCullum,” he said.

“There is no doubt about it. Even though he has done his coaching bit for Kolkata Knight Riders and for Trinbago Knight Riders, I think red-ball cricket is a completely different kettle of fish.” The England men’s team has been going through a difficult time — they lost the Ashes 4-0 in Australia, and then suffered a series defeat in the West Indies as well, prompting Joe Root to step down as captain.

“I think McCullum wants to take this up because he sees this as a major challenge.” “A team that has obviously not done really well in the last two years. A bit in the dumps but to try and resurrect and try and take them to the pinnacle of Test cricket, which is what they are aiming to do.” During his stint as the New Zealand captain, McCullum was widely credited with improving the culture of the team. This led to an improvement in results, culminating in some famous victories.

Asked what culture McCullum would inculcate in the side, Karthik believed the atmosphere around the team would be a “relaxed” one.

“It will be a very relaxed dressing room. I’ve seen that he is somebody who focuses a lot on playing a lot of sports off the field and off the field having a lot of fun as well.

“He emphasizes a lot on it like a young kid who likes to play all the sports possible and gets very physical as well. He is a very strong man, there is no doubt about it. Sometimes even too strong for the current cricketers today. It will be a very relaxed dressing room, a very chill dressing room.

“It’ll be very interesting how the youngsters are able to draw energy from that and make sure they are doing all things right to take English cricket forward.”

McCullum does have a task on his hands, especially with many white-ball tournaments coming up, including the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year and the World Cup next year.

In such a case, managing the workload of the players playing both formats could pose a tricky situation for McCullum.

When quizzed on what would be McCullum’s first priority as the head coach, Karthik said, “I think to find out how much of a priority is it for ECB to play red-ball cricket.

“Because there are so many white-ball tournaments coming up, where is Test cricket placed right now in terms of availability of the players so that he can move the team forward.

“The English cricket team have a few players that overlap between white-ball and red-ball cricket and it can get hard to play both formats throughout the summer. So sometimes you have to give up on a format for a certain time so that you can focus on a major tournament or Test series that is going to come up.

“So the priority on which player and how many good players is he going to get to play Test cricket is something he has to figure out with the administrators.”

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