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Rob Key appointed as new managing director of England men’s cricket

Former England batter Rob Key had previously expressed an interest in the job and will succeed Ashley Giles in the role; Key's first jobs will include appointing a new Test captain and England head coach

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: Sky Sports commentator and former England batsman Rob Key during the end of play wrap-up after day one of the second Test Match between England and New Zealand at Edgbaston on June 10, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Image: Rob Key is the new England men's managing director

Rob Key has been appointed as the new managing director of England men's cricket, succeeding Ashley Giles in the role.

The 42-year-old, who played 15 Tests, five one-day internationals and one T20 for England, will take on the role after former national team spinner Giles was among those to depart in the wake of the winter's dismal Ashes series.

Key, who will relinquish his punditry role with Sky Sports to take up the position, joins at a time with England seeking a new Test captain following Joe Root's decision to step down and a permanent head coach, and is excited to be entrusted with this responsibility.

"It is an absolute honour to take up this role," Key said. "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 shape the next great era of English men's cricket.

"I have absolutely loved my time at Sky and I could never have imagined leaving were it not for this incredible opportunity. I'd like to personally thank Bryan Henderson and everyone in the team for their help and support.

"Although at this current moment it has been a challenging time in English cricket, I also think it's as exciting a time as I can remember.

"With two of our teams near or at the top of the world rankings and an undoubted amount of talent in our game, I hope to try and bring everyone along for the ride so we can all help take English men's cricket to new heights across all formats."

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Rob Key confirmed he was interested in becoming the new managing director of England men's cricket last month

Former Kent captain Key is a hugely respected figure in the game and his highlights on the international stage included making a Test double hundred against the West Indies at Lord's in 2004 which led to him being named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2005, having been part of the England side which won the U19 World Cup in 1998.

During a playing career from 1998 to 2015, Key amassed over 28,000 runs with 60 centuries. He captained Kent twice from 2006 to 2012 and then again for the final two years of his career. During his time as skipper, the side won the County Championship Second Division title in 2010 and reached three white-ball domestic finals.

After announcing his retirement in 2016, Key became a commentator for Sky Sports alongside writing a regular column for the Evening Standard. He remained involved in the administration side of the game and has previously sat on the ECB's Performance Cricket Committee.

Along with overseeing the appointment of a new captain and head coach, Key will be responsible for the strategy behind the England men's cricket teams and the performance pathways leading into them

Rob Key, 2004 (Getty Images)
Image: The 42-year-old played 15 Tests, five one-day internationals and one T20 for England

"Following a thorough recruitment process, Rob stood out in a very competitive field," Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive officer said. "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. He will bring a lot to the role and I am sure players and staff alike will enjoy working with Rob. I have no doubt he will relish the challenge before us.

"I'd like to thank Andrew for agreeing to step back into the role on an interim basis. To have someone of his experience and skillset during the transition and recruitment process was invaluable. He remains a huge asset to English and Welsh Cricket."

Key in February: I would split the coaching

Rob Key, speaking on Sky's Cricket podcast in February:

"I would split the coaching. Not because it's a lot of work but because it's two very different teams at two different times. The [white-ball] team could do with a facilitator coach who can just keep delivering what they're doing but challenge them.

"The Test team needs a completely different style of coach - a driver of culture and environment. The biggest thing is the mentality, which I think has been very poor."

Nasser: Key is no fool | What's on his to-do list?

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Nasser Hussain has backed the ECB's decision to appoint his former colleague Rob Key as managing director of England men's cricket

Nasser Hussain on Sky Sports News:

"I think the ECB have made an excellent choice. I don't know who the other candidates were, but I've worked with Rob for the last six years and even though at times he plays the fool, he's no fool.

"There are times he has said things on air or at the back of the box and you think 'this lad knows his cricket'. He is absolutely a cricket man from top to bottom; his daughter plays in the Kent age groups, he's played for and captained Kent, and he's played for England.

"I think England have made a good choice, he's an excellent cricket man and he's got a very good cricket brain.

"I've already seen tweets and comments about 'jobs for the boys' and those asking how much administration he has actually done previously? It is an administrative role, that is correct, but I'd rather have a cricket person as MD of cricket, someone who understands the game, as opposed to someone who can do an excellent PowerPoint presentation. He will have to work on the administrative side.

"He is very friendly with the players, and the players will be pleased that Rob Key is the new MD of England, but he's going to have to be tough with the players, and he will have to say no to the players at times.

"He turned to me about a year ago and asked: 'How many things has Ashley Giles said no to? Other than taking football away from warm-ups, what else has he said no to?' Rob Key will have to find out soon that he will have to be unpopular at times. Leadership is not a popularity contest, he's going to have to say to the players and coaches at times: no, we are not going that way.

"I am absolutely certain, from what I know of Rob Key… he plays the fool, but he's no fool, he's a very smart cookie. The next three or four decisions Key makes will be vital for the future of our cricket."

Athers: Key appointments need to be right

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Former England captain Michael Atherton believes Ben Stokes is the No 1 choice for Test captain

Michael Atherton on Sky Sports News:

"It's not a surprise. It was obviously highly touted in the last few days that he was going to take over, but I think everyone knew it was coming. It's just when it was going to be announced. I wish him well.

"His instincts on cricket are very sound. He's got good cricket knowledge but what he doesn't have is managerial experience which he'll obviously have to get up to speed on in the new job and he's got a lot on his plate.

"There's a lot of appointments to be filled. He'll need a new Test captain, a new England coach and probably a new England selector, so there's a lot on his plate.

"That is the job really - getting those big decisions right and if you get the big decision right then the rest almost takes care of itself. Although it will be a full on job he'll have a lot of work to do and I think it will be those key appointments that need to be right.

"If Rob gets the key decisions right - and they're not straightforward - I mean there are very few alternatives to Joe Root as England captain. I would have thought his first job is to scoot up the M20 and go and see Ben Stokes up north and see how he is and then turn his attentions to the coach.

"Having listened to his punditry over the last few years, like many of us, he feels the job should be split between limited overs and Test match cricket. He'll wants split-coaches and then bring back a national selector so those are the key appointments.

"I don't think you can do the job without knowledge of cricket. It is a cricket-based job and you're making a lot of decisions around the minutiae of the game so you need to know the game."

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