England’s new red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum insisted he had nothing on the aggression of captain Ben Stokes after overseeing a 3-0 whitewash of his native New Zealand during his first series in charge. McCullum was known for a dynamic approach when captain of New Zealand and the attacking mindset now dubbed ‘Baz ball’, in deference to his nickname, was in evidence again during the third Test at Headingley on Monday.
England, after rain washed out the final morning’s session, took just 15.2 overs to score the remaining 113 runs they required to reach a target of 296 for a seven-wicket victory that followed a pair of five-wicket triumphs over the Test world champions at Lord’s and Trent Bridge.
Bairstow’s innings followed a majestic 162 that revived England from the depths of 55-6 in their first innings.
It was all a far cry from the timid play that had so often characterised England’s performances during a run of one win in 17 Tests prior to this series.
McCullum, however, insisted he had not “done a great lot” while England were whitewashing New Zealand.
‘Pretty special start’
“I am aggressive but I think Ben has got me covered,” McCullum told the BBC.
“He is really pushing the envelope and sending a strong message that this is how the team will play.”
“To walk away with a 3-0 series win against the best team in the world is a pretty special start,” said Stokes.
“When I took over this job it was about more than results — it was about changing the mindset of the lads towards Test cricket, having fun, enjoying representing your country. Then the results will look after themselves.
“To say we’ve done it so quickly is unbelievable.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, who missed the second Test with a bout of Covid-19, was left to rue a lack of top-order runs, including from his own bat.
But despite having missed several New Zealand matches in the 12 months since leading the Black Caps to victory over India in the inaugural World Test Championship final because of a longstanding elbow injury, the 31-year-old star batsman had no thought of standing down as skipper.
“I certainly love playing for this group and being their leader,” he said. “It has been an interesting time and challenging, but the appetite is still there from me.”
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