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

Key replaced Ashley Giles, who was let go after the Ashes’ calamitous 4-0 defeat this winter, and 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. work with.

Ben Stokes is the obvious choice to become Test captain following Joe Root’s resignation 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 role of national coach, cut by Giles last year, should also return.

Key, who will be leaving Sky after six years, said: “It is an absolute honor to take on this role. The chance to make an impact and make a difference is an opportunity afforded to very few and I will give it my all to try to shape the next great era of English men’s cricket.

Once the head coaches are hired – with names like Gary Kirsten, Mahela Jayawardene and Stephen Fleming said to be on his mind – Key’s role will be to manage centrally contracted players and England support staff online, while working closely with county directors on better coaching.

The former striker will similarly oversee and challenge the men’s performance pathway, which includes Loughborough National Academy, the Under-19 side and the England Lions; fresh eyes from outside the existing system mean all three departments are primed for an overhaul.

The game as a whole is under the microscope, with Key to also play a pivotal role in the so-called ‘high performance’ overhaul that was sparked by the Ash Winter debacle and could lead to a restructuring of competitions. nationals – and a possible reduction in first-class county matches – from 2023.

That review is being led by Andrew Strauss, who returned as interim director of men’s cricket in February and oversaw the recruitment process that culminated in the hiring of his former Sky colleague and England team-mate.

Like Strauss before him, Key is light on direct sports administration or coaching experience having moved on from an 18-year playing career with Kent – during which he amassed nearly 20 000 first class races and won 15 test selections – on television.

That said, nine seasons as captain at Kent saw Key heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the club. He also sat on the cricket performance committee of the England and Wales Cricket Board and was a long-time mentor to current England fly-half Zak Crawley.

ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison said: “Rob has stood out in a very competitive field. His passion and knowledge of the game at national and international level is exceptional. He is a proven leader and combines an approachable nature with out-of-the-box thinking and resilience that will serve him well.

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