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McCullum doubles down on attacking plan ahead of England summer

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England Test coach Brendon McCullum has stressed England will continue to play in the same bold vein in the Ashes and throughout their home summer campaign, even as they are forced to shuffle personnel on the bowling side.

England face Ireland in a four-day Test match at Lord's from June 1, before their Ashes series begins at Edgbaston on June 16.

The five-match series against their oldest rivals comes only 17 months on from a humbling 4-0 defeat Down Under, though the England side of 2021/22 pales in significance to the outfit now playing the ‘BazBall’ way.

All but throwing the idea of draws out the window, and harnessing their era of white-ball dominance to employ an ultra-aggressive brand of cricket, England under McCullum and with Ben Stokes as captain have won 10 of their past 12 Tests.

Perhaps the final point to prove for England is performing to their lofty standards when the stakes are raised, with their successful run only coming after falling out of genuine contention for the World Test Championship Final race earlier in the 2021-2023 cycle.

McCullum stresses that his men must continue to go with what has worked so far for them in the Ireland Test and Ashes series that will follow.

“The more that’s at stake, the more it’s important to keep it simple and relaxed, to do what gives you your greatest chance,” McCullum said.

“At the first sign of trouble, you can’t run away from it. Or at the first sign of all the eyeballs in the world watching you, you can’t run away from what’s been most successful for you.

“That’s when you should be at your clearest, keep things as simple as possible and that will be the message right throughout.”

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England's batters have gone at a run rate of higher than five an over in the recent hot streak, though a lift has also come from the bowling group regularly taking 20 wickets to finish the job.

As for who will make up the attack for the next chapter though, there will likely be constant rotation.

Josh Tongue is set to make his Test debut after being named in England's XI for the four-day Test against Ireland, as Ollie Robinson (ankle) and James Anderson (groin) sit out to recover for the Ashes.

England will miss Jofra Archer for the summer and are still sweating on the fitness of Mark Wood, though McCullum believes the depth in the England setup means his confidence in the side will never waiver. 

"When I first took over this job, people said there wasn't much depth in English cricket and I disagree with that completely,” McCullum said.

"I think there is an immense amount of depth and we've got plenty of good options throughout the squad."

Having enjoyed a successful career of his own for New Zealand, the 41-year-old has seemingly brought the lessons learned from international and high-pressure cricket to the coaching ranks.

Stacking the modern England team up with Australia's men, McCullum believes the group he oversees can match this year's World Test Championship finalists.

“You always felt like you were scrapping for something rather than being able to go toe-to-toe with them,” McCullum reflected upon the Australian team of yesteryear.

"I think we've got the quality in our (England) team, and they've got the quality in their team to be a heavyweight contest so I'm excited about that.

"There's so much excitement about what's coming and there's so much uncertainty for everyone, and that's where I think the real magic has the opportunity to come out."


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