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Rob Key, the former Kent and England batter who subsequently forged a successful career in broadcasting, has been appointed by the ECB as its new managing director of England men's cricket.
Key will take up the role immediately, stepping down from his TV work with Sky Sports. The 42-year-old, who retired from playing in 2016, will be responsible for the England men's strategy and performance pathways, as well as a key figure in the high-performance review initiated by Andrew Strauss, currently the interim managing director.
Although he has not held an administrative position previously, Key was among the favourites for the job, light-heartedly discussing being in the running while on air during Pakistan's Test series with Australia last month. Reports that Marcus North had dropped out of contention earlier this week seemingly cleared Key's path.
He takes charge with the men's game in an unprecedented state of flux, following the resignation on Friday of Joe Root as England Test captain. The ECB does not currently have an elected chair, while one of Key's first tasks will be to oversee the recruitment of a new head coach.
"It is an absolute honour to take up this role," Key said. "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.
"I have absolutely loved my time at Sky and I could never have imagined leaving were it not for this incredible opportunity. I'd like to personally thank Bryan Henderson and everyone in the team for their help and support.
"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."
Key will take the reins from Strauss, who occupied the position between 2015 and 2018 before returning in a temporary capacity after the sacking of Ashley Giles, one of a number of dismissals that came in the wake of England's 4-0 Ashes defeat this winter. Another series defeat followed in the Caribbean, leading Root to step down from the captaincy after five years in the job.
England's declining Test standards - they have not won for five series in a row and currently sit bottom of the World Test Championship table - have been cause for much concern, amid calls for the red-ball game to be prioritised. Strauss has said that the high-performance review will include the goal of making England "the best in the world in all formats", although details are yet to be announced publicly.
Discussing the appointment of Key, who was capped in all three formats during a 17-year playing career, Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive officer, praised his "approachable nature" and "fresh original thinking". He also paid tribute to Strauss for his involvement.
"Following a thorough recruitment process, Rob stood out in a very competitive field," Harrison said. "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.
"I'd like to thank Andrew for agreeing to step back into the role on an interim basis. To have someone of his experience and skillset during the transition and recruitment process was invaluable. He remains a huge asset to English and Welsh Cricket."