The England cricket team is facing a difficult phase at the moment. They are currently experiencing their lowest ranking in the ICC for nearly thirty years. McCullum, the newly appointed head coach, has the task of reversing this situation and injecting new energy into the team. Additionally, he must prioritize the well-being of the team's fast bowlers to prepare them for the upcoming challenges.
An England team at its lowest level
Presently, England holds the sixth position in the ICC Test rankings, with a modest score of 88. In contrast, New Zealand stands third and currently holds the title of world champion in Test cricket. This marks England's lowest ranking in the past 27 years, a time when their current captain, Ben Stokes, was merely three years old.
While England trails New Zealand by just a single point, we mustn't be deceived by this margin. As you can see on timesofsports, England's score is based on six more tests than New Zealand. The situation becomes even more disheartening with a streak of nine tests without a victory and only one win in the last 17 matches. It's no wonder that their new head coach acknowledges the team's extremely fragile position.
McCullum needs to address his players' shortcomings
Stokes has confirmed that he will bat at number 6, with Root returning to the number 4 position. As a result, there are four other batting spots that remain uncertain. For the beginning of the summer season, England is considering Lees and Crawley as the opening batsmen, replacing Hameed and Burns who struggled during the Ashes.
Josh Bohannon, a batsman from Lancashire, received praise for his debut on the international stage. However, there is significant uncertainty regarding the players who will be chosen for the number 3 and 5 positions. Bairstow, Lawrence, Pope, and Malan are the most likely candidates. If Bohannon continues to perform well in the county championship, he may earn a selection for the test matches.
Unfortunately, despite the various changes made to improve the team's batting performance, the expected results have not been achieved. Therefore, regardless of the chosen players, McCullum and his coaching team will need to provide solid technical and mental support.
Maintaining good health: An important challenge
McCullum must ensure the fast bowlers of the England team maintain their health. Ollie Robinson has demonstrated great potential in his short international career but has encountered multiple injuries. He needs to demonstrate to McCullum that he is capable of delivering swift and impactful deliveries.
Regarding the trio of Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, and Olly Stone, it seems that Stone is being excluded. He recently mentioned the possibility of retiring from cricket following a back surgery. Wood was in excellent physical condition during the West Indies tour, but an elbow injury forced him to return. He will undoubtedly require careful handling.
Lastly, there is Archer, who has been sidelined from any format for England since March 2021 due to a chronic right elbow injury. However, he appears prepared to make his comeback for Sussex in the Vitality Blast later this month. He expresses his desire to play Test cricket and recognizes the need to prove himself in shorter formats.
McCullum, in collaboration with Key and the new head coach, must devise plans for improved management. Whether it involves reducing schedules or adopting different training routines, it is evident that a change is necessary.