Many doubts were raised about McCullum’s experiment as a coach in the longest format since he was first appointed by the England and Wales Cricket Board in May. But both he and new skipper Ben Stokes seem to have changed the DNA of the way England play Test cricket.
England were more attacking in their field placements, bowling changes, and of course batting in the first two Tests against New Zealand, and that’s what has perhaps rewarded them with a series win.
While many are talking about this ‘new era’ of England cricket, India’s head coach Rahul Dravid has also done a fine job so far. Under new white-ball captain Rohit Sharma, India whitewashed New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies at home in T20Is and also won the Test series against the Kiwis and the Lankan Lions.
Although they failed to win the Test series as well as ODIs away to South Africa, Rahul Dravid and his men showed great character to level the T20I series 2-2 at home despite being 0-2 down at one point.
While the two coaches have different styles, they both seem to be effective and deservedly so as they have been legends of the game and have also captained their respective countries.
On that note, let’s take a look at three different styles of Brendon McCullum and Rahul Dravid that make them highly effective as coaches.
#3 Dynamic changes vs Sticking to the same XI
England were looking to start afresh after their series defeat to West Indies as Joe Root stepped down from the captaincy. The Three Lions had won just one of their last 17 Tests until then and some desperate measures were very much needed.
As soon as Brendon McCullum came in, veterans Stuart Broad and James Anderson were brought back into the Test squad. The No. 3 conundrum was settled by giving dynamic batter Ollie Pope that responsibility. These changes worked like a charm as Anderson and Broad showed why they are world class with the ball.
Pope also brought up a magnificent hundred at Trent Bridge and that has certainly reduced the burden on Root to do the bulk of the scoring. Jonny Bairstow also played a blinder in the second innings and England’s brittle batting suddenly looked formidable within the span of two Tests.
Meanwhile, a lot of questions were raised about the Indian playing XI when the likes of Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik and Deepak Hooda didn’t get a look-in even after losing two games against South Africa. Many felt Avesh Khan should have been left out after being wicketless in the first three matches.
However, the youngster returned to match winning figures of 4/18 and repaid the faith shown in him by Rahul Dravid. After the game, he opened up on how Dravid gives his players a long rope so that they get enough chances to prove themselves. India also won the third and fourth T20I against the Proteas with the same XI that lost the first two games.
#2 Going for the kill vs Believing in process
After their incredible win at Trent Bridge against the Kiwis, fast bowler Stuart Broad opened up on how Brendon McCullum had changed the mindset of the team when it came to chasing down targets. Last year, England played for a draw from a similar position against the same opposition.
The change in mindset has now made them fearless, helping them chase down two scores in excess of 270 in back-to-back Tests. It is no small feat, especially in English conditions.
Rahul Dravid has always believed in continuity and feels the process is more important. He made the India A system stronger when he was their coach and is reaping rewards with the likes of Mohammad Siraj, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, etc. becoming a part of the Indian Test team now.
#3 Backing youth vs Banking on experience
The inclusion of Ollie Pope and the selection of Matty Potts as the third seamer have shown signs that Brendon McCullum wants to move in the direction of injecting some youth into the England setup so that the transition becomes smoother. Even Jamie Overton, who will make his debut in the third Test, is another player who seems to be in England’s future plans.
On the other hand, Rahul Dravid backed Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in South Africa despite Shreyas Iyer having a sensational Test debut against New Zealand. He probably believes that in overseas conditions, experience plays a key role. Cheteshwar Pujara had a stunning county season and after being dropped for the Sri Lanka Tests, he could be back to face England on July 1.
While the two have contrasting styles of coaching, they certainly seem to bring the best out of their respective sides and that’s what makes the one-off Test an intriguing encounter.