Alec Stewart has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Trevor Bayliss as head coach of England.

While some other high-profile candidates - notably Gary Kirsten - appear to have been put off by the decision not to split the roles of Test and limited-overs coaches, Stewart is seen as an ideal character to sustain the hard-working yet relaxed environment around the current England sides. Crucially, as a highly respected former captain of the side, he is also seen as an ideal character to build on the cultural values that have been instilled in recent months.

Appointed as Surrey coach mid-way through a 2013 season in which his troubled team was heading for relegation, Stewart oversaw a revival that resulted in them winning the Championship title in 2018. Now director of cricket at the club, he has given opportunities to an array of home-grown players - including Ollie Pope, Zafar Ansari, Rory Burns and the Curran brothers - all of whom have gone on to represent England.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Stewart will be one of those invited to apply when the process formally begins in the coming weeks. However, it is not absolutely certain he will do so, given that he often refers to his current role at Surrey as "the best job in the world".

Stewart's family are steeped in the history of the club - the pavilion is named in honour of his father, Micky (who also managed England between 1986 and 1992) while his brother Neil is a youth team coach - and at the age of 56, he may also be at the stage of life where touring has lost some of its appeal.

In the end, however, the allure of such a role with the England team may prove hard to resist. Stewart has spoken often of his pride in representing his country and while he did not apply for the director of the men's team role - a position subsequently filled by Ashley Giles - he did hint that he would have considered it had it been offered.

While Chris Silverwood - England's current bowling coach - remains another strong candidate, several competitors appear to have ruled themselves out. Kirsten confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he "had expressed an interest in coaching one format" - which might be interpreted as a reluctance to coach both - while Stephen Fleming is believed to have held a similar view.

Giles has previously said the ECB are "99.9 percent" certain to appoint one person to replace Bayliss. He has also outlined a plan for three assistants to support that head coach - or director of cricket - providing an opportunity for rest, rotation and career development over the course of an almost unrelenting international schedule. Stewart, Silverwood and, perhaps, Tom Moody - who was also in the mix when Trevor Bayliss was appointed in 2015 - might now be considered frontrunners for the job.

The other leading candidates

Chris Silverwood: Won the County Championship as head coach at Essex and has an excellent reputation as England's current bowling coach. He is a very strong candidate for the top job.

Tom Moody: Vastly experienced in both international cricket (he has been head coach of Sri Lanka) and in England (he was director of cricket at Worcestershire). Moody has subsequently held various management roles in T20 leagues around the world. Indicated he was interested in both the India and England roles the last time they were vacant. It is, however, unclear whether he would give up the portfolio of positions he has now for the demands of such a job and he insists he has had no contact with the ECB at this stage.

Andrew McDonald: Fast developing an excellent reputation as one of the best young coaches in world cricket, McDonald already has trophies in all formats on his CV. He seems happily settled in Australia, though, and perhaps this job comes just a bit early in his career.

Paul Collingwood: The only man to captain England to a global limited-overs trophy. But Collingwood has relatively little coaching experience - he retired as a player less than 12 months ago - and may have to be content with a role as one of the three assistants. This time round, anyway.

Graham Thorpe: England's lead batting coach has an excellent chance of winning one of the three assistant roles, but looks an outsider for the top job at this stage.

Mark Robinson: The England women's coach is perceived, perhaps unfairly, as a little intense, but he has enjoyed great success at international and domestic level. He guided Sussex to two County Championship titles before lifting the Women's World Cup in 2017.

Ottis Gibson: The current South Africa coach has vast experience - he has also coached West Indies - and has had two spells as England's fast bowling coach. He is out of contract in September and thought to be interested in the role.

Mickey Arthur: Another hugely experienced international coach who is sure to be considered if he shows an interest. He may not be seen as the right fit for this role, however, and would have to be considered an outsider.

Jason Gillespie: Having enjoyed great success at Yorkshire, in particular, Gillespie understands the culture of English cricket and has a good reputation for building the sort of working environment England would want. Was heavily touted in 2015 and, if he's interested, he has to be a contender.