England to appoint separate head coaches for Test and limited-overs squads

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England have confirmed they will appoint separate head coaches to lead the men’s Test and limited-overs squads, with the interview process set to begin in just two weeks.

A return to the split coaching model has long been anticipated, with England’s exhausting schedule and the rapidly diverging fortunes of the red and white-ball teams making the change a virtual necessity.

The appointment of Rob Key, a proponent of the two-coach plan, as managing director essentially rubberstamped the shift and formal job specifications have been published by the England and Wales Cricket Board outlining the new roles.

Chris Silverwood
Chris Silverwood left his role as England head coach in February (Martin Rickett/PA)

Time is tight with England beginning their summer schedule on June 2, with the first Test of the summer against New Zealand, but they still hope to have a full-time coach in position by then. If not, a continuation of Paul Collingwood’s interim reign would not be unthinkable.

The application process concludes May 6 and first-round interviews will follow on May 9 and 10, just a fortnight away.

Collingwood is the leading internal candidate, and could be in with a good chance of landing the white-ball position, but the ECB will be crossing its fingers that recruitment partners SRI present a strong field of international names.

Australians Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer and Simon Katich have all been touted as options, should they wish to cross the Ashes divide, while New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming, Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene and South Africans Gary Kirsten and Graham Ford have all been linked.

The field was thinner than expected when Chris Silverwood was appointed ahead of Kirsten and Mickey Arthur in 2019, but the reduced workloads of a shared position mean those who were previously put off by the time demands could be attracted this time.

Key’s predecessor, Ashley Giles, had been resistant to splitting the role having previously shared power with Andy Flower during his own coaching career. Giles led the limited-overs team between 2012 and 2014, with the more powerful Flower retaining the reins of the Test side.

Both Trevor Bayliss and Silverwood have since done the job single-handedly, but England’s fixture demands over the next 12 months – and beyond – render a continuation of that policy almost unworkable.

The official posting for the roles sheds some light on Key’s vision for England’s backroom team, with appointees told to expect “a central role in selecting the team…alongside a national selection panel”.

Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting has been touted as a possible England coach (Mike Egerton/PA)

It is less clear whether a new national selector would be part of that panel, or what role current head scout James Taylor would play within it.

The over-arching aim is both clear and, given recent results, lavishly ambitious.

“These roles are responsible for developing world-class England Men teams in both Red and White ball cricket and ensuring sustained success both at home and abroad,” the job description reads.

“(They will be) developing a high-performance culture that drives outstanding performance, on an off the field, ensuring England teams are capable of winning consistently in all formats, home and away.

Rob Key
Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket, is due to face the media this week (Tim Goode/PA)

“The roles will carry additional responsibility for developing a playing style and culture that inspires future generations of players and supporters.”

As well as being “accomplished strategists with clear and ambitious plans”, England’s new head coaches will be expected to produce “exceptional standards of professionalism” – potentially a veiled reference to some of the reported excesses of the recent Ashes tour.

Amid concerns that players have too often stalled or regressed upon exposure to the England set-up in recent years, there is also a clear mandate to “develop and improve the existing talent technically and tactically”.

With Ben Stokes all but certain to be appointed as Test captain and Key due to face the media for the first time on Thursday, these are busy times for the ECB following a winter that saw poor results on the field and a power vacuum emerge behind the scenes.

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