In the vast tapestry of India’s diverse social landscape, a series of threads are being pulled, threatening to unravel the intricate fabric of its civil society.
A day after India wrapped up their home assignments for the calendar year with a 4-1 win over Australia in the T20I series, the mind games have started for the next big home challenge that will see the Indians taking on England in a grueling five-match Test rubber, starting January 25.
Ahead of the home series, the Indian team will embark on a tour to South Africa with an aim to clinch their first ever series win in the Rainbow Nation, when they take on the Proteas for three T20Is, three ODIs, followed by two Test matches.
Coming back to the series against England that starts with the first Test in Hyderabad Brendon McCullum, the Test head coach of the visitors, reckoned that the tour is going to be a big challenge for his team.
After Hyderabad, the sides will face off in four more Tests in Vishakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamsala.
“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 conditions,” McCullum said at the RCB Innovation Lab’s Leaders Meet India.
“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,” he added.
While cricket pundits are divided with their views on coach McCullum’s style of flamboyant cricket displayed by England in the recent years, earning them success in major white-ball tournaments, but their recent flop show in the 2023 50-over World Cup have drawn flak from several quarters.
Explaining the essence of Bazball, a term coined after the former New Zealand skipper (nicknamed Baz) was appointed as Test head coach and Ben Stokes as Test captain, McCullum said, “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,” he added.
Reminiscing his playing days, and how he set the Indian Premier League (IPL) on fire by slamming an unbeaten 158 off 73 balls in the very first game in 2008, McCullum credited the innings as a life-changing one.
“The reason why I daydream about that moment is because it literally changed my life. I was just a cricketer for New Zealand, where no one really knew what you did where you’re from, or what you’re capable of,” he said.
“But that day provided the platform, the forum, and the opportunity to change my life,” he added.