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McCullum promises to entertain as ‘Bazball’ hits NZ

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WELLINGTON: Brendon McCullum once thrilled crowds in New Zealand with his batting fireworks but the former Black Caps skipper may get a different reception as coach of England as he puts ‘Bazball’ to the test in its spiritual home.

New Zealand face England in a two-Test series starting in Mount Maunganui next week, with the battle between McCullum’s free-hitting batters and the hosts’ formidable stable of quicks set to provide ample entertainment for home fans.

“It should be alright. They’re going to be entertained at least whether New Zealand win or whether we win,” McCullum told a media conference in New Zealand on Thursday. “Obviously people are patriotic and want their own team to win.

“But this is one of the reasons that we’re in the job that we’re in — is you’ve got to make Test cricket entertaining (and) want to ensure people walk away with a great experience from the game.”

Under McCullum and captain Ben Stokes’ leadership, England have won nine of their last 10 Tests — including a 3-0 series whitewash of the Black Caps at home.

“We can take forward some of the lessons that we’ve learnt from the past 10-11 months and it’ll give us the opportunity to do something pretty special in the next little while,” he said. “I don’t think we have to do too much different. Guys are enjoying their cricket.

“Wherever they go they’ve got smiles on their faces, they’re laughing and joking.

“We know when they put their head down and start working, they put in the yards. That’s all you can ask for … If you do that you don’t know where the ceiling is.”

New Zealand host England with new captain Tim Southee taking charge in his first home series since Kane Williamson stood down as skipper.

McCullum described Stokes as “the sort of guy who writes his own scripts and achieves some pretty special things”.

McCullum was full of praise for Southee, who he played alongside for the Black Caps.

“We know New Zealand will be very good in these conditions, Tim will be creative, as he always is, and I look forward to seeing how we respond to that.”

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2023


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