England appointed former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum as their new Test team coach on Thursday, marking the start of a new era in English cricket.
The former opening batsman emerged as a late contender for the post that became vacant after Chris Silverwood was removed. Former India and South Africa coach Gary Kirsten was seen as the favourite to, but McCullum impressed the England board with his vision and landed the job.
He was originally seen as more suitable for the white-ball coaching position, but McCullum has instead taken up the challenge of reviving England's Test team that has just one win in 17 Tests, which included a 4-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.
"In taking this role on, I am acutely aware of the significant challenges the team faces at present, and I strongly believe in my ability to help the team emerge as a stronger force once we've confronted them head-on," McCullum said.
"I've enjoyed several robust conversations with Rob Key about the direction of travel for the team and have found his enthusiasm contagious. I'm no stranger to bringing about change within a team environment, and I can't wait to get started.
"Ben Stokes is the perfect character to inspire change around him, and I look forward to working closely with him to build a successful unit around us."
McCullum, who has not coached a first-class team, will leave his job in charge of Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders.
The 40-year-old is credited with ushering a new era in New Zealand cricket with his attacking batting and dynamic approach. The Black Caps became a real force during his tenure, reaching the final of the 2019 World Cup and the 2021 T20 World Cup, and winning the inaugural World Test championship in between.
England will be hoping he brings that magic to their beleaguered team, which is now being captained by all-rounder Stokes after Joe Root stepped down from the position.
"We are delighted to confirm Brendon as England men's Test head coach. It has been a real privilege to get to know him and understand his views and vision for the game," director of men's cricket Rob Key said.
"I believe in Brendon and Ben Stokes - a formidable coach and captain partnership. Time for us all to buckle up and get ready for the ride. I believe his appointment will be good for England's Test team.
"He has a recent history of changing cricket culture and environments for the better, and I believe he is the person to do that for England's red-ball cricket. We were incredibly fortunate to have a seriously strong list of quality candidates for the post, with Brendon demonstrating he was our No 1 choice."
England's next task could be an interesting one. They face New Zealand in a three-match home series in June while being captained by New Zealand-born Stokes and with Kiwi great McCullum as coach.