England managing director Rob Key calls for manageable cricket fixture list

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 (PA)
(PA)

England managing director Rob Key has called on cricket to work collaboratively to produce a better schedule, so that star players do not have to give up a format, as Ben Stokes has this week.

Test captain Stokes, who plays his final ODI at his home ground in Durham today, took a parting swipe at England’s schedule as he quit, and Key said he shares his concerns.

“My concerns are what Ben said, that it becomes too punishing, especially for a bowler,” he told Sky. “The days when players are playing every format in every game, they’re done. We are going to have to be smart working out how we use those fast bowlers.”

Key acknowledged that England’s schedule is especially bruising because they have played matches against the Netherlands and India that were postponed last summer due to Covid.

“What it really needs is all the boards, ICC, everyone, to come up with something that’s manageable, not just a game here, a game there, play in a gap there,” he said. “Come up with something so everyone gets what they want out of it: players, boards, broadcasters, everyone, so we get something that is a bit more manageable. It won’t be easy, but that’s what it needs. They are starting to do that, and we have to influence it as best we can.”

Stokes will take a few weeks off before the next Test at Lord’s in August and Key added: “He felt 50-over cricket wasn’t for him any more because his absolute ambition is Test cricket and getting England’s Test team back as captain. He wants to be able to bowl, he doesn’t just want to be a batsman. He wants to contribute to be an all rounder. I’m betting that this is what gets him up to 120-plus Test matches.”

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