‘An absolute honour’: England appoint Rob Key as director of men’s cricket - 3 minutes read

Rob Key will begin working on an overhaul of England’s coaching and selection setup after the former Kent captain turned Sky Sports pundit was named as the new director of men’s cricket on Sunday.

Key has replaced Ashley Giles, who was fired after the winter’s calamitous 4-0 Ashes defeat. With no Test captain or permanent head coach in place, or anyone in charge of selection currently, the 42-year-old has a relatively blank canvas to work with.

Ben Stokes is the obvious choice to become Test captain after Joe Root resigned on Friday, while Key is also expected to hire separate head coaches for the red and white-ball teams given the markedly different stages of their development. The national selector role, cut by Giles last year, is also tipped to return.

Key, who will leave his role at Sky after six years, said: “It is an absolute honour to take up this role. The chance to have an impact and make a difference is an opportunity given to very few and I will give it everything I have to try to shape the next great era of English men’s cricket.”

Once the head coaches are hired – names such as Gary Kirsten, Mahela Jayawardene and Stephen Fleming are believed to be in his thoughts – Key’s role will be to line-manage England’s centrally contracted players and support staff, while also working closely with county directors on best practice.

The former batter will similarly oversee and challenge the men’s performance pathway, which includes the national academy at Loughborough, the Under-19s team and the England Lions; fresh eyes from outside the existing system mean all three departments are braced for a shake-up.

The game as a whole is under the microscope, with Key to also play a central role in the so-called “High Performance” review that was triggered by the winter’s Ashes debacle and could lead to a restructure of domestic competitions – and a possible reduction in first-class county matches – from 2023 onwards.

This review is being run by Andrew Strauss, who returned as director of men’s cricket in an interim capacity in February and oversaw the recruitment process which resulted in his former Sky colleague and England teammate being hired.

Like Strauss before him, Key is light on direct experience of sports administration or coaching after moving from an 18-year playing career with Kent – during which he amassed nearly 20,000 first-class runs and won 15 Test caps – into television punditry.

That said, nine seasons as captain at Kent saw Key heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the club. He has also previously sat on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s cricket performance committee and been a longstanding mentor to Zak Crawley, the current England opener.

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said: “Rob stood out in a very competitive field. His passion and knowledge of the game at domestic and international level is outstanding. He is a proven leader and combines an approachable nature with fresh original thinking and resilience which will stand him in good stead.”

Source: The Guardian

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