England split roles as Key’s coaching views put to test

England’s new cricket supremo Rob Key will have the chance to put his strong views on coaching into action when he interviews candidates for the separate white and red-ball posts next month.

Confirmation that England would split the white and red-ball jobs of their men’s teams has come after job descriptions were posted online this week, with appointments to be made only weeks before their first home Test of the northern summer.

Key, the former Test batter who was appointed England’s new managing director earlier this month, will begin interviewing applicants from May 9, less than a month out from their season-opening Test against New Zealand on June 2. Their next limited-overs matches come in a three-match ODI series against the Netherlands on June 17.

The 42-year-old was the first major appointment following a disastrous Ashes tour that saw his predecessor Ashley Giles, coach Chris Silverwood, assistant Graham Thorpe and (eventually, following another Test series defeat in the Caribbean) Test captain Joe Root all fall on their swords.

Australians Justin Langer and Darren Lehmann are reportedly out of the running to take either of the coaching roles, but Simon Katich has been touted as a strong contender for either role along with South Africans Gary Kirsten and Graham Ford.

Former Test opener Katich is reportedly a contender to be an England coach // Getty

Key, a pundit for British broadcaster Sky before being hired by England, has made no secret of his forthright opinions on coaching.

He declared in January that Ricky Ponting would be his ideal candidate for England after their Ashes defeat but conceded it was unlikely the cricket great would be interested.

That’s despite proclaiming a year earlier, in a newspaper column for the Evening Standardthat “in my experience, most great players make shocking coaches, because they can’t relate to the struggle of the mortal”.

Laying out his view on how modern international coaches should operate, Key suggested they should be a “calming authority” and “should be seen only occasionally and heard even less”.

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And in a subtle dig at then Australia coach Langer, who was prominent in the 2020 Amazon documentary The Test that followed the team’s fortunes following the 2018 sandpaper scandal, Key went on to write: “Even England fans might not actually know their coach’s name.

“And if they ever needed to restore a ruined reputation with a gently-shot PR documentary, he certainly wouldn’t try to be the star of the show. When we do hear from him, he doesn’t come across as a Churchillian orator – but who cares?”

Key also cast doubt on the merit of coaching courses run by cricket boards, a notion Ravi Shastri took a step further in an interview published by the Guardian this week when discussing his success with India.

“…I didn’t have coaching badges (either). Level one? Level two? F**k that,” said Shastri, who stepped down last year.

England previously split the men’s teams’ coaching positions in 2012 with Andy Flower (Tests) and Giles (ODIs and T20Is) handed the reins before reverting to a solitary figure in charge of all three formats in 2014.

Lehmann has been a strong advocate of Australia appointing dual coaches after admitting he was burnt out when he resigned following the 2018 Cape Town saga, but Cricket Australia continues to prefer a single figurehead.

Andrew McDonald, chosen as Langer’s permanent successor earlier this month after leading the Test side to a series win in Pakistan, has conceded however that he will not be able to lead every tour.

“I’d like to think I have the coaching staff to step-up, and we can elevate certain coaches at different times to take on different tours and different challenges,” McDonald said after his appointment.

“While doing that it’s only growing the depth of our coaching staff … coaches will get exposed along the journey to help out the workload which is quite significant for a head coach.

“Once it was decided that I was the preferred candidate I got a chance to sit down with Cricket Australia and the people around that to shape the role.

“It (managing the workload) was a huge part of it, no doubt it.”

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