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Rob Key has been announced as the new managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, the first appointment of a new era for the governing body.
Joe Root was the latest of a series of resignations when he announced his decision to retire as England captain on Friday following a disastrous 12 months of red-ball cricket including a dismal 4-0 defeat in the Ashes.
The 31-year-old’s decision expanded a power vacuum at the ECB, with head coach Chris Silverwood, batting coach Graham Thorpe and former managing director of England men’s cricket Ashley Giles losing their jobs over three successive days in February.
Key had been a surprise contender for that role, which was openly advertised on the ECB website, having primarily worked as a commentator and pundit since his retirement from county cricket with Kent in 2015, and he will give up his current role with Sky Sports to take the reins.
“It is an absolute honour to take up this role. 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,” Key said.
“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.”
One of Key’s first challenges will be to appoint a successor to Root, with Ben Stokes the favourite to take the role as one of few players guaranteed to be in the Test team. Long-serving Stuart Broad appeared to distance himself from the captaincy in his Daily Mail column on Sunday morning.
Key will also be responsible for the strategy behind the England men’s cricket teams and performance pathways, and will take a role as part of an upcoming high performance review.
As a player, Key played 15 Tests for England between 2002 and 2005, as well as five one-day internationals and one Twenty20 international, including a Test double century against the West Indies at Lord’s in 2004.
At Kent, Key was captain for nine years in two spells and made almost 20,000 first class runs in 299 matches, averaging 40.45.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “Following a thorough recruitment process, Rob stood out in a very competitive field.
“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.”