Brendon McCullum on the verge of being named England men’s Test coach

Brendon McCullum could be England’s new Test coach by the end of the week, with the former New Zealand captain on the verge of being appointed.

McCullum was reported to be the leading candidate after a round of interviews led by the England and Wales Cricket Board’s director of cricket Rob Key at the start of the week, leapfrogging previous favourite Gary Kirsten, and the PA news agency understands the process is moving towards a swift conclusion.

Moves were already under way on Wednesday to have Key’s preferred nominee ratified by the ECB board, whose approval is likely to be swift, leaving contractual details and any work permit arrangements to be settled.

Rob Key has been leading the hunt for two new head coaches.
Rob Key has been leading the hunt for two new head coaches (Adam Davy/PA)

If all goes smoothly an announcement could come as soon as Thursday, but more time could be required to iron out the logistics.

The 40-year-old’s current role in charge of Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders was one potential discussion point, but further negotiations may not be necessary.

Key had previously indicated there could be an element of flexibility around IPL employment given his decision to split the red and white-ball positions, but the Indian Express newspaper reports that McCullum has already told KKR he will be leaving his post to take up the reins with England.

  • Played 101 Tests, 260 ODIs and 71 T20s for New Zealand
  • Captained his country in the 2015 World Cup final
  • Scored the fastest Test hundred in history, in 54 balls, in 2016
  • Top Test score of 302
  • Head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL

McCullum has never coached a first-class side before, let alone a Test nation, but boasts an unimpeachable reputation in the game as an astute thinker and inspirational skipper.

He made 101 Test appearances during a 14-year international career with the Black Caps, as well as 331 in limited-overs cricket, and was an active player on the Twenty20 circuit as recently as 2019.

When news of McCullum’s interest in England first emerged, it was anticipated that the limited-overs job would be his likeliest destination. As well as being immersed in the rhythms of short-form cricket for the last few years, he is also a close friend of England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan – who chose him as master of ceremonies at his wedding.

New Test captain Ben Stokes could relish a partnership with McCullum.
New Test captain Ben Stokes could relish a partnership with McCullum (Owen Humphreys/PA)

But McCullum’s progressive, attacking philosophy also aligns with that of newly-installed Test captain Ben Stokes. Both Morgan and Stokes have been canvassed for their opinions on the candidates and both are likely to have given enthusiastic support to McCullum.

For Kirsten there could be an unwanted feeling of deja-vu. The former South Africa and India coach was also considered to be in pole position in 2018 before losing out to internal candidate Chris Silverwood at the interview stage.

There is a chance he could come into contention for the limited-overs position, where he would face competition from current assistant coach Paul Collingwood and Australian Simon Katich among others, but the ECB could leave that decision until next week.

While the first Test is close at hand – against McCullum’s native New Zealand on June 2 – and a squad is due to be picked next week, the one-day series against Holland does not begin until June 17.