Brendon McCullum is already looking forward to the next Ashes after going ‘toe to toe’ with Australia in a series he never wanted to end.

The coach who, along with captain Ben Stokes, has transformed England’s Test cricket since the low of their latest thrashing in Australia 18 months ago, expects some new faces by the time these great old rivals meet again in two and a half years.

But the two principal figures in the Test revolution in McCullum and Stokes still plan to be around to resume hostilities with an Australian team ultimately grateful to the Manchester rain for a shared series that saw them just about retain the urn.

‘I’ve always looked at the Ashes from afar and to now be part of it and witness how special it is has been something quite incredible,’ said McCullum in the aftermath of the extraordinary end at the Oval to an exceptional series. ‘I don’t want it to end actually.

‘I think we should go round again, have another five Tests and keep doing what we’re doing. Australia walk away with the urn but both sides have two victories after staying true to their styles and that’s what makes a great heavyweight fight.’

England head coach Brendon McCullum has expressed his delight at the team going toe to toe with Australia in a thrilling Ashes series

England head coach Brendon McCullum has expressed his delight at the team going toe to toe with Australia in a thrilling Ashes series

England head coach Brendon McCullum has expressed his delight at the team going toe to toe with Australia in a thrilling Ashes series

England won the final Test at the Oval on Monday as a superb series finished level at 2-2

England won the final Test at the Oval on Monday as a superb series finished level at 2-2

England won the final Test at the Oval on Monday as a superb series finished level at 2-2

Stuart Broad inspired England to victory in his final Test, but he won't be around for the next tour of Australia in 2025-26

Stuart Broad inspired England to victory in his final Test, but he won't be around for the next tour of Australia in 2025-26

Stuart Broad inspired England to victory in his final Test, but he won’t be around for the next tour of Australia in 2025-26

McCullum hailed the ‘significant growth’ of England since the advent of what, whether he likes it or not, will always be called Bazball when Rob Key made the inspired move of bringing the Kiwi together with Stokes to halt a run of one win in 17 Tests.

‘When the skipper came in the question was would we be able to take on a great Australian team – and they are a great team – and go toe to toe with them?’ said McCullum. ‘I think the answer has been yes and that’s testament to the guys who have gone quids in with their belief in this side and the direction the skipper wants it to head.’

The considerable challenge of a five-Test series in India starting in late January – and what a shame we have to wait until then for more Test cricket – is next on the England agenda but McCullum was happy to think beyond that to 2025-26.

‘Yes,’ said McCullum when asked if he will still be around the next time England try to win the Ashes. ‘There will be some new faces, there’s no doubt about that, in two and a half years but I’d imagine it will be another cracking series. This one has to sink in first!’

It is fascinating to consider the likely make-up of England’s Test side then. Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali have gone and the other members of what we called their ‘dad’s army’ attack in Jimmy Anderson, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood could all be gone too.

Moeen Ali (left) has also confirmed his retirement, while Chris Woakes (right) is unlikely to play in the next Ashes series Down Under

Moeen Ali (left) has also confirmed his retirement, while Chris Woakes (right) is unlikely to play in the next Ashes series Down Under

Moeen Ali (left) has also confirmed his retirement, while Chris Woakes (right) is unlikely to play in the next Ashes series Down Under

That means, with doubts surrounding whether Jofra Archer and Olly Stone will ever be able to maintain the consistent fitness required for Test cricket, the England attack in Australia could feature Ollie Robinson, Josh Tongue, perhaps Matt Potts, and others on England’s radar like the Surrey pair of Gus Atkinson and Tom Lewes.

Jack Leach, who will be 34 by the next Ashes, may have handed the spinning reins to Rehan Ahmed while the batting and keeping could be bolstered by Surrey’s Jamie Smith.

A fascinating one is whether Somerset’s James Rew, the outstanding young batsman-keeper in the country at 19, is ready by then but it was fascinating listening to Alastair Cook saying on Test Match Special he might not be Bazball enough for England.

For now McCullum is heading back to New Zealand satisfied England stuck to their ultra-attacking principles in this Ashes even when they were being questioned by some of the most fervent of fans when Australia led 2-0.

Rehan Ahmed (pictured) is likely to be England's No 1 spinner for the next Ashes series

Rehan Ahmed (pictured) is likely to be England's No 1 spinner for the next Ashes series

Rehan Ahmed (pictured) is likely to be England’s No 1 spinner for the next Ashes series

Surrey's Jamie Smith (pictured) could be given the gloves for the next tour of Australia

Surrey's Jamie Smith (pictured) could be given the gloves for the next tour of Australia

Surrey’s Jamie Smith (pictured) could be given the gloves for the next tour of Australia

‘For the skipper to be able to galvanize the group when we were two down and, if anything, be stronger in our belief about how we wanted to play is testament to his leadership,’ said McCullum, who always prefers to give the credit to Stokes.

‘Australia retained the urn but from our point of view we stayed true to our way of doing things under the fiercest pressure.

‘When India comes around we will be trying to dial back into what we’ve achieved in the last 14-15 months and make sure the team turns up with the same clarity of thought about how we go about things.

‘Until then I’m sure the boys will have a good time wherever they turn up, in county cricket or franchises or wherever. They’ll score some runs, take some wickets – and we’ll all make some birdies!’

Possible England team for first Ashes Test in 2025-26 – Crawley, Duckett, Stokes (captain), Root, Brook, Bairstow, Smith (keeper), Ahmed, Atkinson, Robinson, Tongue.

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