McCullum 'in awe' of 'pretty insane' England talent

By Sports Desk February 09, 2023

Brendon McCullum is "in awe" of the "pretty insane" talent in the England Test side as they prepare to face New Zealand.

England have been totally transformed under head coach McCullum and new captain Ben Stokes, winning nine of their 10 Tests with an aggressive brand of cricket.

They will attempt to continue riding on the crest of a wave in McCullum's homeland in a two-match series that starts in Mount Maunganui next Thursday.

The tourists warmed up for the opener against the Black Caps with a draw against a New Zealand XI, Harry Brook top scoring with a rapid 97 as they racked up 465 all out before Olly Stone took 3-54 as their opponents were all out for 310.

McCullum, such an explosive batter in his illustrious career, feels fortunate to be working with such a gifted group of players.

"The shots and some of the skills they possess is pretty insane," said the former New Zealand captain. 

"From a coaching point of view, it's pretty exciting to watch the talent some of these guys have got.

"We sit back in awe at times of how good these guys can be. Hopefully we're able to see them continue to develop."

This year England will also attempt to wrestle the urn back off Australia in the Ashes on home soil and McCullum sees no limit to what they can achieve under inspirational all-rounder Stokes.

He added: "With the skipper in charge, I'm not sure what's possible because he's a guy who writes his own scripts and achieves some pretty special things.

"I know the plans he has for this team are quite lofty.

"He'll try to do what he can to drag the boys along for the ride."

The weather could have big impact on the first Test against the Black Caps at Seddon Park, with Cyclone Gabrielle forecast to hit early next week.

Related items

  • England’s Shoaib Bashir dedicates maiden five-for to his late grandfathers England’s Shoaib Bashir dedicates maiden five-for to his late grandfathers

    England off-spinner Shoaib Bashir dedicated his maiden five-wicket haul in professional cricket to his late grandfathers as he geared up for one of the biggest days of his embryonic career.

    Bashir, at 20 years and 135 days old, became England’s second youngest bowler to claim a Test five-for in just his second appearance in the format and his eighth first-class match.

    His five for 119 in the fourth Test against India in Ranchi helped England claim a 46-run lead after the first innings but a batting collapse has left the tourists with much to do to square the series.

    While taking time to reflect on a significant moment in his life, Bashir insisted England remained confident after India closed on 40 without loss, chasing 192 to move 3-1 up in the five-match series.

    “It was quite emotional – I lost my two granddads about a year-and-a-half ago and they used to just sit and watch Test cricket all the time,” Bashir said.

    “Their wish was to see me out on the TV, I know they’re supporting me from up above. It was a very special moment on my journey. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought anything like this (would happen) but that was really special.

    “I know I (still) have a job to do and me and Tom (Hartley) are really excited for the challenge.

    “We know us two lads are up against a world-class (India) attack but we’ve got a chance to be heroes.

    “That pitch is deteriorating quite a bit now. We saw some pop from a good length and some roll. That’s good signs for us.”

    England’s approach has been characterised by relentless optimism but they surrendered pole position in the penultimate contest after succumbing to a trial by spin on a turning pitch offering uneven bounce.

    Ravichandran Ashwin averaged nearly 39 with the ball in the series before this third day but claimed five for 51, while fellow spinner Kuldeep Yadav was just as impressive as he took four for 22.

    Zak Crawley’s dismissal for 60 was the start of England crumbling from 110 for three to 145 all out, having earlier let India add 130 for their last three wickets, led by Dhruv Jurel’s excellent 90.

    Bashir, though, was predictably upbeat about England’s chances, despite India openers Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal going at five an over in the half hour before stumps to leave just 152 more to win.

    “India played well; Jurel batted really well towards the end. He probably scored a few more runs than we would have liked but we’re going to bowl them out (on Monday),” Bashir said.

    “The pitch is deteriorating massively so anything can happen. It’s 10 chances to take 10 wickets. We saw how Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja bowled on that wicket and we take huge confidence from that.”

    Jurel was put down on 59 by Ollie Robinson, who let a head-high chance burst through his fingers, and added another 31 before Hartley spun one sharply past his outside edge and disturbed the stumps.

    Jurel marshalling the bowlers in his second Test – sharing important partnerships of 76 with Kuldeep and 40 with Akash Deep – was compared to Mahendra Singh Dhoni by another India great, Sunil Gavaskar.

    “It feels great if a legend like Gavaskar gives a compliment like that,” Jurel said.

    “I don’t regret a bit on missing (out on) the hundred. It’s my debut Test series, it’s always a childhood dream to play for India in Tests.”

  • England face fight to save series as spinners put India in command England face fight to save series as spinners put India in command

    England succumbed to their trial by spin as India were left 192 to win the fourth Test and the series following Ravichandran Ashwin’s five-wicket haul.

    After India turned an overnight 219 for seven into 307 all out, whittling a first-innings deficit down to 46, Ashwin’s five for 51 and Kuldeep Yadav’s four for 22 led to England being skittled for 145.

    Zak Crawley top-scored with 60, but his dismissal marked the start of England’s collapse from 110 for three on the third afternoon on a pitch offering significant turn and uneven bounce.

    England, trailing 2-1 in the five-match series, were unable to make a breakthrough in the last half hour as they try to force a decider in Dharamshala next month, with India closing on 40 without loss.

    Joe Root and Tom Hartley shared the new ball and Shoaib Bashir, who earlier became the second youngest English men’s bowler to take a Test five-wicket haul in just his eighth first-class appearance, had an over and it is likely the trio will have plenty of work to do to prevent an England defeat on day four.

    The tourists are not out of it, but may end up ruing Ollie Robinson dropping Dhruv Jurel on 59, with the wicketkeeper making 90 to lead India’s recovery from 177 for seven the previous evening.

    There was more DRS controversy as Joe Root was given lbw on review, with former England captain Michael Vaughan suggesting on social media enough of Ashwin’s delivery had pitched outside leg-stump.

    But England’s batters were outfoxed by India’s vaunted spinners, with Rohit Sharma turning immediately to Ashwin in the second innings despite an underwhelming series beforehand, averaging nearly 39.

    Ashwin, though, is a master of these conditions and bagged his 350th and 351st Test wickets in India from successive deliveries to set the hares running.

    Ben Duckett was first persuaded into a defensive push to short-leg on 15 then Ollie Pope got into a tangle as he misjudged the length and was leg-before for a golden duck and a three-ball pair in the Test.

    Crawley negotiated the hat-trick ball and settled into some rhythm with three cover drives for four in four deliveries when India’s premier spinner over-pitched, but a blossoming stand with Root ended on 46 when the Yorkshireman missed a flick after helping to stretch England’s lead to three figures.

    There was some suspicion most of Ashwin’s delivery from round the wicket had landed outside leg, but India’s review returned three reds and first-innings centurion Root was on his way for 11, despite scepticism on social media about the result technology returned.

    Jonny Bairstow was punchy early on and Crawley moved to a third fifty of the series, but India still had one more trump card in Kuldeep, who followed up an obdurate 28 off 131 balls by ransacking England’s batting.

    Crawley’s fourth ball against the left-arm wrist-spinner turned lavishly through the gate and clattered middle stump, while Ben Stokes made a chancy four off 13 balls before meeting the same fate.

    Stokes was first struck on the back leg by a scuttler and initially seemed oblivious as to why India were celebrating but threw his head back and grinned wryly after turning round and seeing the bails on the ground.

    When Bairstow tamely punched the first ball after tea to cover off Ravindra Jadeja to depart for 30, England had lost three wickets for 10 runs in 31 balls, leaving Ben Foakes to bat with the bowlers.

    Robinson’s dismal day continued as he was twice struck on the pad by Kuldeep, overturning one lbw verdict but not the other and out for a three-ball duck, before Foakes and Bashir dug in.

    The pair put on 12 in 74 balls, but Foakes chipped back to Ashwin, who had his first five-for of the series when James Anderson got a tickle to a reverse sweep.

    Bashir earlier bagged the one scalp he needed for a first five-wicket haul in any form of professional cricket in just his second Test after snaring Akash Deep and the 20-year-old should have accounted for Jurel, only for the ball to burst through Robinson’s hands at midwicket.

    Tom Hartley gave an indication of what was to come by turning one sharply past Jurel’s bat and castling him on the stroke of lunch, but England had allowed India to add a princely 130 for the last three wickets.

  • Shoaib Bashir completes first five-wicket haul amid Indian resistance Shoaib Bashir completes first five-wicket haul amid Indian resistance

    Shoaib Bashir claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in any form of professional cricket, but England were met with resistance in Ranchi.

    India turned an overnight 219 for seven into 307 all out on the third morning of the fourth Test, largely thanks to Dhruv Jurel moving from 30 to 90 before he was last man out on the stroke of lunch.

    Tom Hartley spun one past a defensive push to leave India trailing by 46 after Bashir bagged the one wicket he needed for a first five-for in just his eighth first-class appearance and second Test.

    Bashir, who finished with five for 119, might have had the milestone sooner, but Ollie Robinson spilled Jurel when he was on 59.

    It was a difficult morning for Robinson as he was again down on pace, while the seamer sent down a further three no-balls, taking his tally to six on his first competitive appearance since last summer, with an extended absence perhaps contributing to a lack of rhythm.

    It was left to James Anderson to make the breakthrough for Test wicket 698, although there was an element of fortune as Kuldeep Yadav defended on to his front foot and the ball rolled back on to off-stump.

    Kuldeep leaned on his bat then began a slow trudge off, clearly distraught at his downfall for 28, having soaked up 131 deliveries, following in a handy 76-run stand alongside Jurel.

    India did not fall apart at the back end as England had done 24 hours earlier as he shared a princely 40 with Akash Deep.

    Jurel scored 31 of them, hammering Bashir for two meaty sixes after Robinson spilled a chance above his head, with the ball bursting through his hands.

    Deep briefly got into the act but then got in a tangle against Bashir, rapped on the back pad and given lbw, with England getting their fourth umpire’s call of the innings.

    Hartley ended Jurel’s counter-attack in the final over before lunch but it was India’s session with their last three wickets adding 130 to make sure they did not face a significant first-innings deficit.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.