ob Key’s reign as managing director of men’s cricket in England is starting to take shape, with Ben Stokes set to be named Test captain and applications open for coaching jobs.
Stokes was widely seen as the only viable candidate to succeed Joe Root, whose five-year captaincy ended when he stepped down earlier this month.
Key has held talks with Stokes and other senior players since his appointment 10 days ago, including this week. The jack-of-all-trades is believed to be keen on the job (when his friend Root was in charge, he distanced himself strongly from it) and a date seems close.
Any appointment would have to be ratified by the ECB’s board, which means an announcement would have to be pushed back until next week.
Stokes served as Root’s vice-captain for much of his tenure, although James Anderson, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali all did the job when he was unavailable. It seems unlikely that England will appoint an official vice-captain this time around; uncertainty over the best XI means standout candidates are thin on the field.
Stokes’ appointment is expected before that of a head coach. With a full process required, applications opened this weekend for two positions: head coach of the red ball and head coach of the white ball. The application deadline is next Friday (May 6), with interviews taking place the following week.
It is hoped that England will have appointed a Test coach before the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2, but there may be an interim team to take over this series, a situation similar to the arrival of Trevor Bayliss in 2015, when Paul Farbrace first led the team.
There is always the possibility of England getting a head coach, if the right candidate emerges and is enthusiastic. But a split is strongly favored within the governing body.
Paul Collingwood, who was interim head coach on last month’s Caribbean tour, remains the favorite to lead the white ball teams, but it will be interesting to see if any big names in global coaching apply for what is a attractive gig that could be combined. with franchise work. Eoin Morgan remains captain of both formats for now and generally sets the direction of the team.
The role of test coach will almost certainly be filled by a face new to the setup from overseas. The main contenders are Simon Katich, the former Australian striker, Graham Ford, the former Ireland and Sri Lanka coach, and Gary Kirsten, who coached India and his native South Africa.
Katich (Manchester Originals) and Kirsten (Welsh Fire) are already on the ECB payroll as men’s Hundred coaches, while Key has known Ford from his time in Kent and has praised him before. Kirsten missed out on Chris Silverwood when the position was last available in 2019.
Others in the running are likely to come from Australia, with Jason Gillespie, Tom Moody and possibly Greg Shipperd, who is highly regarded Down Under, all possible candidates.
The job application suggests that the red and white ball setups will have separate coaching teams and support teams. The sheer volume of England men’s cricket have been playing in recent times necessitated a move towards this, but this has not been made official.
Along with head coach Silverwood and general manager Ashley Giles, batting coach Graham Thorpe lost his job after the Ashes, another position that needs to be filled.
Key is also expected to return to the role of national manager, which Giles left when Ed Smith was fired a year ago. Who would fill this role remains unclear.
Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson are in line to make their first county appearances of the season tomorrow in a bid to prove their readiness for the New Zealand Series.