Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is set to be named England’s new Test coach by the end of the week.
Recently appointed director of England men’s cricket Rob Key has plumped for the New Zealander as the man to replace Chris Silverwood, who left following the Ashes, and try and revamp a slumping red-ball side
Moves were already underway 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.
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.
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.
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 previous favourite Gary 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 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 2 June – and a squad is due to be picked next week, the one-day series against Holland does not begin until 17 June.