Brendon McCullum’s Homecoming: England Arrives in Hyderabad, the Land of Opportunity

4 min read

Recently in November, the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium was renovated with a new roof covering its stands. That’s why Brendon McCullum is gazing up at it like he’s been reacquainted with an old friend who has done something a bit different with their hair. It might have also been the look of a man wondering if he could have put a dent in it in his heyday. Has he cleared the stands here before? “Not for a long time,” he said with a smirk before adding a more honest: “absolutely not”. He gave it a good go back in 2010. A slap-happy Hyderabad special saw him blaze four sixes in a mammoth innings of 225. Over 13 years on, McCullum was back out in the middle as red balls flew around him during England’s first training session in India. “It looked good,” McCullum said. “It looks like it’s going to spin.” Crucially, none of this was framed as a problem. There is a clear sense England have come into this tour with an edict not to let themselves be rattled by a home board curating their own pitches. McCullum even went as far as vouching for the groundsman, calling him “a good fella” who does “a really good job”. “When we started out on this journey a fair while ago we wanted to provide as much entertainment as we possibly can,” McCullum said. “We felt that gave us the best chance as well. What better stage to do it on – against India, in India? There’ll be many eyeballs watching around the world and it’s a huge opportunity for us. India is the land of opportunity, and that’s what sits in front of us now. That’s the exciting thing. how long the games go, I’ve no idea but I’m sure both teams will stick to their respective styles. Throughout the Ashes, it was two heavyweights going at it with different styles, and I expect it to be the same in this series.” He was similarly non-committal on the keeping situation, which took on a new dynamic once Harry Brook pulled out of the tour for family reasons. Ben Foakes’ protracted training session with the gloves on Monday seemed to give the game away, though Jonny Bairstow may also start to cover for Brook’s loss. There are still important decisions to ratify, combinations to sort, gut calls to make. But there is a prevailing sense of calm entering into battle with a team who have won their last 16 home series. A simplicity borne out of the fact there is more to gain than lose for a group of players seemingly blessed by perspective. And it was hard not to wonder if a tour of India, where McCullum’s legacy as a cricketer was cemented, is exactly the kind of series to underline his unique qualities as a coach. “Obviously it’s no secret that we’re trying to enjoy ourselves as a team as well,” McCullum said. “And those things away from cricket are obviously super important to this side. A lot of our messaging is consistent, not just around the cricket field but around daily life and that includes enjoying yourself. “We’ve got to take 20 wickets with the ball in each Test match and we’ve got to get one more run than them with the bat. It’s not rocket science but it will be the nuances of the game, and when to stick and when to twist, which will be the fascinating part. That’s what I love about this series – we are going to be tested, and our methods are going to be challenged and we’ll see where we are at. But it’s a pretty exciting opportunity.”

You May Also Like

More From Author