NZ vs ENG | You've to make Tests enjoyable on and off the field, raves Brendon McCullum

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Brendon McCullum has spoken up about the importance of keeping Test cricket relevant by creating a positive culture around the sport, using his experience with England as an example. The head coach further talked about competing against his home nation and the challenges of a pink ball Test.

England's turnaround in Test cricket would be appropriate enough for a children's fairytale, given how they went from one victory in 17 outings under Joe Root to nine swashbuckling triumphs in 10 attempts under the dynamic duo of skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. However, after having surpassed the stiff threats posed by India, New Zealand, and South Africa respectively, the Europeans face a huge year of cricket featuring the Ashes and a tour to the Kiwi islands. England is scheduled to play two Tests away, including a day-night game at Mount Maunganui beginning February 16.

McCullum, a legend in that part of the world who took the Black Caps from being perpetual underdogs to a global force to reckon with, has been assigned the task of a tour guide as per ESPNCricinfo.   

"It's been busy - a lot of demands on me," he was quoted saying.

England are yet to win an away pink ball Test in five attempts, losing thrice to Australia and once each to the Kiwis and India. However, much in the way his team plays fearless cricket as exhibited in a tour match against New Zealand XI where the visitors romped to 450 in 65.4 overs, McCullum appeared unperturbed by the challenges. 

"The ball's going to swing and it's going to be difficult under lights. Do you want to expose yourself to that? Do you not? Does it matter? We'll find out I suppose."

The former wicket-keeper batter has introduced a process-oriented result in the English side where consequences are overlooked as long as the players have confidence in their abilities, leading to three successive record run chases the last time they faced New Zealand. McCullum explained how the off-field culture impacts such on-field performances in a day and age where cricketers are lavished by luxuries by franchises in T20 leagues around the world.

"There are so many options these days that Test cricket you've got to make enjoyable, not just on the field but off the field too. Try and get those guys to know when they board the plane to head overseas or jump into the car to head down to Lord's, or whatever it is to join up with the team, they know they're going to have a great time. The results will hopefully follow," McCullum said.

"You can't guarantee that, but what you can do is ensure you put some money in the bank when it comes to experiences and relationships. I think for too long, I always felt when playing anyway, that everything was based around cricket and sometimes you forgot to enjoy yourself. It's not until the back end of your career you go 'aw, I can actually have a good time now'. That's when you really enjoy it and somehow you end up becoming better as well. So that's the theory, we'll see how it works out, but it's worth a crack," he added.

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