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News

Rob Key confirms interest in England managing director role

Sky Sports commentator admits 'lifestyle' is a factor as he weighs up high-profile vacancy

Rob Key during an interview, Australia v India, Under-19 World Cup, final, Mount Maunganui, February 3, 2018

Rob Key gets ready for an interview after the 2018 U-19 World Cup final  •  Getty Images

Rob Key, the former Kent captain turned Sky Sports commentator, has confirmed he is in the running to become the new managing director of England men's cricket, but concedes that the "lifestyle" of the role may be the deciding factor as he weighs up the pros and cons of taking on such a high-profile vacancy.
Key, 42, played 15 Tests for England between 2002 and 2005, with a highest score of 221 against West Indies at Lord's in 2004. He made his name, however, as an outspoken and popular captain at Kent, whom he led for a total of nine seasons up to his retirement in 2015, and took that same independence of thought into his subsequent commentary career.
His candidature has emerged from left-field, but according to the Evening Standard, the paper for which he writes a regular column, his name is in a shortlist of interviewees that includes Marcus North, the former Australia batter who is currently Durham's director of cricket, and Ed Smith, Key's contemporary with Kent and England, who lost his job as national selector last year.
Key responded coyly about the role when quizzed on-air by his co-commentator, Bazid Khan, during the fourth day's play of the Lahore Test, and joked that his desire to play golf would be the deciding factor.
"There's a lot of speculation around... there's a lot of jobs up for grabs in English cricket," he said. "A fair few people have been asked, a fair few people are going for these jobs. The thing I have is that you have to weigh up how much golf you can get in doing some of these. For me, the lifestyle thing is the big issue."
In May 2020, Key was hospitalised after suffering a transient ischaemic attack, or mini-stroke, and though he has recovered fully from his illness, he conceded at the time that he would "need to look into why it happened at my age".
The appointment of a new managing director promises to be one of the most crucial elements of English cricket's so-called "red-ball reset", following the sacking of Ashley Giles from that role in the wake of England's 4-0 Ashes defeat.
Andrew Strauss, Giles' predecessor, has returned to the role in an interim capacity, and last week announced a high-performance review of the professional game. However, after stepping down to care for his two sons amid the tragic death of his wife, Ruth in 2018, Strauss himself is not expected to put himself forward for the full-time return.
"I haven't considered that really," Strauss said last week. "I've got unique personal circumstances that makes doing that role difficult and quite frankly there's always value in getting a new perspective and new views. Nothing ever stays the same or goes backwards. I'm certain there's going to be some good candidates for this role."
Other potential candidates include two current ECB employees in Nathan Leamon, the England white-ball team analyst, and Mo Bobat, the influential head of performance. One high-profile name who would appear to be out of the running, however, is Alec Stewart, the director of cricket at Surrey, who has reportedly also opted out for family reasons.
The ECB advertised for the role on March 14 with applications due by March 27. The recruitment process is being led by consultants at SRI Executive, and the job specifications suggest than "international and/or first-class county playing experience" is "desirable".