Coach Brendon McCullum says he is “in awe of the quality” of the players in his England squad.
McCullum is preparing to lead England in two Tests in his native New Zealand with nine wins from 10 games playing an exciting style of cricket.
Wednesday during a warm-up against a New Zealand eleven, batter Harry Brook hit five sixes in a single.
“The shots and some of the skills they have are pretty crazy,” said former New Zealand captain McCullum.
“From a coaching perspective, it’s quite exciting to see the talent of some of these guys.
“We sometimes marvel at the quality of these guys. Hopefully we can see them continue to develop.”
England’s run of success, built on a philosophy of playing with freedom and aggression, has included some remarkable performances.
In June they chased 299 in just 50 overs to beat New Zealand in the second Test at Trent Bridge and went on to chase 378 – an England record – to defeat India at Edgbaston.
In December, they went 506-4 on the first day of the first Test against Pakistan, which the bowlers backed by forcing an all-time big win on flat ground. It put England on the path to a 3-0 series win, the first time a visiting side have secured a clean sweep in Pakistan.
Since McCullum and captain Ben Stokes took over in May last year, England have achieved a run rate of 4.77 runs per over, significantly faster than the rest of the world, while only the Australia is taking wickets at a faster and cheaper rate.
McCullum praised Stokes, the all-rounder whose inspirational leadership adds to a list of accomplishments that includes winning performances in the 50-over World Cup in England in 2019 and Cup final triumphs World T20 2022, and his innings in the Headingley Ashes 2019 Test victory, one of the greatest ever played by an Englishman.
“With the skipper in charge, I don’t know what’s possible because he’s a guy who writes his own scripts and does some pretty special things,” McCullum said.
“I know the plans he has for this team are quite ambitious. He will try to do what he can to coach the boys in the race.”
McCullum and Stokes took charge after a run as England had won just one Test in 17, a heavily contested period under Covid pandemic restrictions.
Poor form saw captain Joe Root, coach Chris Silverwood and director of cricket Ashley Giles all replaced, the latter by Rob Key.
McCullum acknowledged the work done by the previous regime to “hold the fort together”.
“When you’re playing Test cricket and things don’t go to plan and you put the restrictions that everyone in the world has experienced, it’s incredibly demanding,” he said.
“Timing is everything in life and taking over when we did, the guys were ready for that feeling of freedom. All around the world opened up and I guess we appreciate the opportunity we have. I’m lucky it happened when he did.”
England will play the second and final day of their warm-up against the New Zealand XI on Thursday after being dismissed for 465 on day one in Hamilton.
The first Test against New Zealand begins on February 16 at Mount Maunganui, with the series ending in Wellington.
England then play a test against Ireland in June before beginning their bid to win back the Ashes from Australia.
“I don’t think we have to do too many different things,” McCullum said. “The guys are enjoying their cricket. They have a smile on their face. They are laughing and joking.
“When they put their heads down and start working, they put in the yards. That’s all you can ask for. Then it’s a matter of pressure situations, being brave enough to allow that factor to talent, hard work and fun to go out. If you do that, you don’t know where the ceiling is.
“There will undoubtedly be tough times, and the way we handle them is intriguing. I’m sure we’ll handle them with the same calm that we were able to handle the success we’ve had.”
McCullum also confirmed he will be at Te Rapa Racecourse in Hamilton on Saturday to watch his co-owned horse, Defibrillate, attempt to win his second consecutive Group 1 race.
“I have the second favorite so I will be there,” he said. “It might be the favorite after the boys got into it.”