Mentality shift has been the key for England

When I did that piece with Athers on Sky on day two of the series against New Zealand, England had just been rolled over and I think everybody thought: “Here we go again.”

I did say that day, though, that I had seen some good stuff there and that I believed with a change of mindset there was an opportunity for these guys to go quite well.

It’s actually a culture shift that Eoin Morgan introduced to English cricket in 2015. To see it now bearing fruit in Test cricket is great.

I’ve known Brendon McCullum for 15 years as a player, a fellow commentator and from travelling around with him. I know what kind of person he is and that he was always going to bring that positive approach.

The license he has given to these guys to truly go out and do what feels natural has been unbelievable to watch. There is no fear of failure. It’s purely backing guys’ talent.

And you know what I like? That, despite his struggles, Zak Crawley has been selected for the India Test this week. If you’re going to ask players to express themselves, you have to understand that it sometimes won’t work out.

If you start dropping them after a bad run, they won’t feel that they can play as naturally again.

Delighted for Jonny Bairstow

I always saw Test cricket as a chance to score quickly because there are so many gaps in the field.

Ten years ago, when I was getting out how Ben Stokes got out at Headingley last week, I was ridiculed and abused. Playing that way wasn’t looked at very fondly.

But under this regime, that kind of cricket is encouraged – and we see that in Jonny Bairstow more than anybody else.

Bairstow plays some audacious shots in the shorter forms of the game and it’s brilliant to see him bring that to the Test arena.

They might be rolled for 80 or 90 every so often, but we could see them score 500 or 550 in a day, too.

I’ve always liked Jonny. I thought he was a very talented player when he was a team-mate of mine at the beginning of his career and it’s been brilliant to see him grow into something of a hero.

He hasn’t minced his words – he never does – about the fact that the IPL has helped him hugely.

Watching him bat at the top of the order with David Warner for Sunrisers Hyderabad for so many seasons was brilliant, because you could see him improving and enjoying taking centre stage.

He’s got used to playing in front of huge crowds, facing the best bowlers and seizing the moment. It now comes naturally to him to be the hero when his team needs him.

I’m delighted for him, because it hasn’t always been an easy ride and it means so much to him.

The way he, Joe Root and Ben Stokes are playing, with Alex Lees and Ollie Pope developing quietly in the background, England are going to post some enormous scores.

They might be rolled for 80 or 90 every so often, but we could see them score 500 or 550 in a day, too.

India will be a tougher test

It always surprised me that New Zealand were World Test Champions.

I mean no disrespect by that, because they must be doing something to get the very best out of each other. But other than Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, who needs the ball to be swinging, they lack star quality.

Daryl Mitchell’s been in the form of his life, but would need to maintain that for a lot longer to be considered in the upper echelons of world batters. I don’t consider Tim Southee to be as good as the top fast bowlers and their spinner, Michael Bracewell, was very average.

So I certainly expect England to face a tougher test against India, who are packed full of the best players on the planet.

India’s bowlers might not mind so much that England are going to come out swinging at them. Ravi Jadeja is an excellent spinner when people start getting after him and you can be sure that Jasprit Bumrah will see it as an opportunity, too.

England bowled well against New Zealand, but a batting order featuring Rohit Sharma (who will hopefully be available), Che Pujara, Virat Kohli and so on is a different kettle of fish.

I’m commentating on the match for Sky and I can’t wait. India are always supported well in Birmingham, as are England, so another Test like those that we’ve seen over the last few weeks would be a fantastic spectacle.

Eoin Morgan has transformed English cricket

England's Test team are taking a leaf out of Morgan’s book, transforming their playing style to entertain the crowds.

That is Morgan’s legacy as captain of the white-ball team for the last seven-and-a-half years – creating a culture in English cricket where talent is backed and entertainment is paramount.

He has created a winning culture, too, of course. He delivered England’s first ever global silverware and created incredible memories both at Lord’s by winning the World Cup final that day, and with all the incredible records and moments they have produced during his time in charge.

He backed his players, he had the trust of his players and they delivered for him. That is a great, great legacy.


Undeniably, he has fundamentally changed English cricket. It has been quite spectacular. It is probably the right time for him to walk away, but we now have a group of white-ball superstars who are ready to keep going in Morgan’s image.

It looks like Jos Buttler is very likely to be named as his replacement and I’m sure he will do a fine job.

He’s a very calm, cool character, who makes calculated decisions. Morgan has set the culture in that dressing room now so Buttler just needs to go out and carry on the good work.

The upcoming T20 and ODI series against India will be a big first Test.

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