Former England captain Nasser Hussain on Wednesday hailed the captain-coach combination of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum in the side winning the second Test at Trent Bridge by five wickets, saying that McCullum and Stokes have taken the fear of failure away from the team in their new era in the longest format of the game.
Chasing a target of 299 from 72 overs to win the second Test on its final day against New Zealand, England romped to the total in 50 overs, thanks to a sensational onslaught from Jonny Bairstow striking 136 off 92 balls, laced with 14 fours and seven sixes.
He also shared a 179-run stand with Stokes (75 not out) in just 20.1 overs, to take an unassailable 2-0 series lead. "McCullum and Stokes have taken the fear of failure away from this England team. There has been so much doom and gloom around them.
The players lost, admittedly largely because of Covid, that love and enjoyment of playing for England. As Jonny Bairstow rightly pointed out on Tuesday night, the previous management were dealt a very difficult hand but that spark, energy and fun are back," wrote Hussain in his Daily Mail column.
Hussain further mentioned that McCullum and Stokes were justifying their talk of making fans enjoy Test cricket again after England lost 4-0 in the Ashes in Australia and 1-0 to West Indies. "You can talk the talk, as Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have done since coming together, but it is quite another thing to walk the walk.
How England walked it here. They have talked about promoting Test cricket and making people enjoy it. "Well, if you have not enjoyed the five days of this second Test then cricket really is not for you. To chase down New Zealand's first innings 553 with a constant positive, attacking mindset was truly phenomenal and once England got close to parity then the third innings of the Test became so difficult for New Zealand.
England just took it away from them." Showering praise on Stokes, Hussain pointed out how the all-rounder's impact on England has been a driving force in their reset run in Test cricket starting on a bright note.
"Stokes was certainly here at Trent Bridge on Tuesday and you can see the impact of his mentality. He is a very smart cricketer, not just a hit it out of the ground one. Every time he is there in a big moment - such as Headingley 2019, the World Cup final and now here - he is present at the end.
"He completes the job time and again. Remember, Stokes put New Zealand in before they made that mammoth total. I have been there as England captain and you think, 'What is happening here?'. But for Ben it seemed to be, 'Fine, they've scored 553, let's go and do the same and do it quickly'."
Hussain signed off by saying McCullum's appointment as Test coach is proving to be a master-stroke. "I said at the time Rob Key was the right choice as England managing director and that Stokes was the right choice as captain.
Key then went left-field to appoint McCullum when nobody thought of him as a potential Test coach and that is already proving to be a success."