Brendon McCullum said England would only know when they had gone too far in their bold new approach, when they ended up with defeat.
England scored at a 4.54 race per over rate during their three tests against New Zealand, half a race per over faster than in any previous test series of three or more tests.
“Alarms have probably gone off a little bit around world cricket about how this team is going to play,” said McCullum, England Test manager, after England’s 3-0 series victory. “Let’s seize the moment and see what happens next. It’s exciting.
“I hope we take this too far, because then we’ll know exactly where that line is. Until you do that, you’re not sure. We saw that with the England cue ball – there were times when they probably pushed too hard, and then they know. I think it will be the same with us, and we have to keep exploring what that line is.
“It’s not just about hitting, either. If you look at how we play on the field and how we bowl too. Some of the field placements that the captain had in place and the mindset that the guys had is constantly trying to chase wickets.”
McCullum said England’s lean run in Test cricket before he and Ben Stokes were appointed as head coach and captain – winning just one Test in 17 – allowed the pair to make sweeping changes.
‘Stokes has already exceeded my expectations’
“I think taking on this job… there was a thirst for change. When your results haven’t been good, people are more receptive to change,” he said.
“I know it’s early but [Stokes has] Exceeded my expectations to be honest. I’m aggressive, but he protects me, which means something.”
When England were on 296 wins in the third test, with a possible 47 extra overs remaining if England had claimed the extra half hour: “Your message to the group was to get this over with tonight,'” McCullum said.
“What we’ve seen on the pitch, when we’re on the pitch and he’s there as captain, he’s constantly making plays, which I think is great because it means at least we’re in control, regardless of what the score says. So when he’s hitting, he’s also pushing the envelope, which is sending a message not just to our locker room but to other locker rooms around the world that this is how we’re going to play. He’s been fabulous so far.”
McCullum also echoed Stokes in saying he expects County Championship players to follow the lead on the Test side.
“If I were a young county cricketer and I saw what our England number five is currently doing and the role and how he’s encouraged to play that way, I would probably try to play like that to make sure he gets noticed too,” McCullum said. , saying the team was not interested in more traditional first-rate batsmen.
“Right now it’s probably not what we’re looking for, but there might be a time when it is,” he said. “I just look at the players we have and I think they fit what we’re trying to achieve and the style we want to play as a team.”