Brendon McCullum will be up against his most formidable test yet when England tour India for a five-Test series in January. McCullum, since taking over as England coach in May of last year, has tasted victories over New Zealand, in the rescheduled fifth Test against India from the 2021 series, inflicted a clean sweep on Pakistan and drawn the Ashes. However, the prospect of defeating India in a Test series on their home soil promises to be the biggest achievement of McCullum’s coaching tenure as no team has done so in over a decade.

Brendon McCullum says that even if England don’t succeed, the players will go down ‘playing the way only they know'(Reuters)

India and England have been in a back-and-forth battle for the No. 1-ranked Test side in the world. The Anthony de Mello trophy was up for grabs twice in 2021, with India beating England at home in the first half of the years and then drawing the series away in the second. Earlier this year, Australia tried, but fell 1-2 short. But barring Australia, if there is one team than can post a challenge to India on their home turf, it is England, with the dynamic captain-coach duo of Ben Stokes and McCullum at the helm.

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“We have got a huge challenge against a very good Indian team in five Tests in India. I am excited about it because you want to test yourself against the best side and I genuinely believe that India is the best in their own condition. It is going to be a good challenge for us. If we have success then fabulous, if we don’t then I know we will go down in the style that we want to go down,” McCullum said at the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India.

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The series may still be almost two months away but has already gained steam due to the popularity of England’s Bazball approach, a term that has made its way to the dictionary. The Collins dictionary refers to Bazball as ‘a style of Test cricket in which the batting side plays in a highly aggressive manner’, but whether it will be effective in India, where pitches aren’t exactly known to be pace-friendly is the million-dollar question on everyone’s mind.

Last year, ahead of the Edgbaston Test in July, when India coach Rahul Dravid was asked about Bazball by one of the reporters, his reply was ‘don’t really know what’s that’. He found it the hard way a few days later when England beat India by 7 wickets. Less than two years later, Dravid will have the opportunity to even the odds. As for his counterpart, McCullum, he hinted that England will continue playing a brand of cricket only they know how to, indicating that Bazball will operate on full throttle.

“We are playing the game, because we love cricket and we want to try and be as good at cricket as we possibly can. During the time that you are in the chair, you want to make sure you enjoy it and you shouldn’t wait till the end of your career to do so. We are very lucky that we have had some immediate success but I don’t think it is the ceiling for us. I think we have seen some guys who have unlocked their potential in the last 18 months or so and that’s what the job is as a leader; to get the most out of the people that you’re in charge of,” added the former New Zealand captain.