‘Rohit is bold; Virat has lived up to the hype’: England coach McCullum | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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‘Rohit is bold; Virat has lived up to the hype’: England coach McCullum ‘doesn’t know' if Bazball will succeed in India

Dec 07, 2023 12:19 AM IST

England head coach Brendon McCullum is looking forward to the battle against Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the upcoming IND vs ENG five-match Test series.

At a time when there is a fair bit of debate going on around India's T20I captaincy, former New Zealand skipper and the current head coach of England's Test team, Brendon McCullum said he is a fan of Rohit Sharma's 'bold' captaincy. One of the striking features of Rohit's approach in the recently concluded ODI World Cup was his ultra-aggressive mindset as an opening batter and also as captain. Rohit scored 597 runs - the second-highest behind teammate Virat Kohli's all-time tally of 762 - at a strike rate of 125 in the World Cup. As a captain too, Rohit was not shy of making bold calls in the field.

India's skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (ANI )
India's skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (ANI )

Interestingly, Rohit's style of batting and captaincy had many similarities with how McCullum approached the 2015 ODI World Cup with the New Zealand side. As fate would have it, both teams lost the final to Australia despite being the dominant side in the group stages.

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McCullum said Rohit is ready to take risks and that can do wonders with a team like India because of the wealth of talent they have. "Yeah. I like his captaincy (Rohit Sharma's captaincy). I think his captaincy is bold. He takes risks and he takes the game on. And when you add the talent base of India to these kinds of tactics, then he can achieve very good things. He has been a great leader for not just India but for Mumbai Indians over the years as well," said McCullum to ANI about Rohit's captaincy.

Also Read | Rohit Sharma told BCCI officials and selectors, 'If you want to pick me for T20 World Cup, tell me now': Report

Rohit will make a comeback to the Indian side from the two-match Test series in South Africa. He and Virat Kohli had requested a breather from the white-ball leg of the South Africa tour which the BCCI granted.

‘Kohli has lived up to the hype’: McCullum

Speaking about Virat, who broke Sachin Tendulkar's record of 49 ODI centuries and also became the first cricketer to score more than 700 runs in a single edition of a World Cup, McCullum said that Virat was always billed as a future superstar since his early days as a cricketer and he has lived upto that hype and dealt with the hopes and dreams of over a billion people over the years.

"Well, obviously Virat, I know him pretty well from my time at RCB and also playing against him. So look, he was always touted as a future superstar and he has lived up to, he has dealt with the hopes and the dreams of over a billion people and he has been able to perform on the big stage. He deserves every accolade that he gets," said McCullum.

England are slated to play five Tests against India next year. McCullum is excited about the tour to India as England's Test coach, saying that it would be an amazing challenge for their side against a team that is unmatched in their home territory.

"Looking forward to duelling with both those two (Rohit and Virat) and all the other guys come the Indian tour in January, February, March. It is going to be a tour which will be very tough, but a tour that we are really looking forward to. The opportunity to take on the best team in their own conditions in the world and see where we are at as a side," said McCullum.

The five-match Test series between India and England will kickstart on January 25 next year with the first Test in Hyderabad. The fifth and final Test will be held in Dharamshala and the series will conclude on March 11.

'I don't know': McCullum on whether Bazball will succeed in India

Speaking about whether England's attacking style of cricket, also known as 'Bazball' among the cricket fraternity, will be sustainable in India's mostly spin-friendly conditions, McCullum said that one does not need to think too much as the team is playing this way as they love cricket and are trying to be as good at it as possible.

"I do not know (about the attacking game being sustainable). I do not think we need to think too deeply about it in the end. I think we are playing the game because we love cricket and you want to try and be as good at cricket as much you possibly can. And during the time that you are in the chair (as a coach), you want to make sure you enjoy it. You should not wait till the end of your career to have enjoyed it," said McCullum.

The coach said that the team is lucky to have had some immediate success in Test cricket with him and skipper Ben Stokes at the helm and some players have unlocked their potential over the last 18 months or so.

"So we are very lucky that we have had some immediate success in the time that we have been there playing this style of Cricket, which gives guys the greatest amount of satisfaction. I do not think it is a ceiling for us, but we will find out in the next little while. But whatever happens, I think we have seen some guys sort of unlock their potential in the last 18 months or so. And that is what the job is as a leader, is to get the most out of people who you are in charge of and done that for a fair few," he added.

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