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Monty’s Spin on – Rob Key’s role in the future of English cricket plus a possible return for James Anderson and Stuart Broad

By Monty Panesar

13th Apr 2022 | Local Features

After it emerged that Alec Stewart had pulled out of the race to become the new managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, the name of Rob Key has been identified as a surprise candidate.

A successful cricketer and captain in his own right; today, he is best known as a TV commentator and pundit, but to my mind he could be a wise choice.

He has good relationships with the younger cricketers while - as a successful Sky sports commentator - he also has the ability to engage with wider audiences.

Rob also has good relationships with ethic minority communities and cricketers, for example Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah, which is particularly significant in the wake of recent events in Yorkshire and elsewhere.

That will be important for whoever gets the role, because engaging with the diverse community and tapping the huge talent pool will be crucial to England's success in the future.

The most important job will be to get the Test team back playing the level of cricket we expect from them.

If he does get the role, he is an honest guy and I would expect him to bring back Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who were both omitted from the tour squad to the West Indies.

As much I know of Rob Key, he believes both have a future in Test cricket, certainly for the series against South Africa and maybe until the next Ashes.

His approach to cricket is led by innovation and fresh ideas, rather than sticking to tradition and coaching manuals. And he will want to appoint a proactive coach who is in the same mould.

He has been a successful Kent captain and was always innovative in his field placing and thinking. I would expect a similar approach to management.

I think he would challenge the hierarchy to bring in coaches and players from all backgrounds, while creating programmes within the County structure to make the game inclusive.

Rob Key has a successful relationship with Graeme Ford at Kent and I expect that is the kind of coach he would like to see in the England team. Certainly Andy Flower or Gary Kirsten would also work well with him.

By contrast, I do not believe that Australia's Justin Langer - someone who is strong on fitness and has a military approach to training - would be a good fit.

I expect Paul Collingwood to become the head coach of white ball cricket. At the same time we may see Eoin Morgan step down as captain – although he still has a big future in the England set-up - with Jos Buttler taking the role.

At 42, Rob Key is relatively young for a senior role in cricket administration, however this is not a negative. For example, we have seen Saurav Ganguly doing a brilliant job at president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

No doubt Sky Sports will do everything they can to keep Rob, but I feel sure he would do a brilliant job.

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