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Ben Stokes might be named England Take a look at captain on Thursday when Rob Key holds his first media convention since turning into the managing director of males’s cricket.
Key provided the position to Stokes on Tuesday throughout face-to-face talks within the north-east and although the 30‑yr‑previous all‑rounder at all times performed down any captaincy ambitions throughout his time as Joe Root’s deputy, he has accepted the problem.
The appointment of a Take a look at captain requires sign-off from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s unbiased board however whereas it’s in flux – Martin Darlow was introduced on Wednesday as the brand new interim chair – Key’s recent mandate since taking cost of the lads’s nationwide groups 10 days in the past has made this a formality.
Given a paucity of credible alternate options within the Take a look at facet, Stokes was at all times the outright favorite to take over after an exhausted Root known as time on his five-year tenure within the wake of England’s winless winter in Australia and the Caribbean.
Nonetheless, Key nonetheless wanted to satisfy Stokes to determine his starvation for this extra duty, each as a linchpin of the Take a look at facet with bat and ball and having taken a four-month break final yr for his psychological well being.
Stokes has captained the Take a look at staff – a four-wicket defeat in opposition to West Indies in Southampton two years in the past when Root was on paternity go away – however it stays his solely first‑class match in cost. That mentioned, he has lengthy been a pacesetter within the dressing room and earned plaudits when captaining a rookie one-day worldwide staff to a 3-0 sequence win in opposition to Pakistan final yr after a Covid-19 outbreak dominated out the primary‑alternative squad.
His first look because the everlasting England captain and an eightieth cap will come in opposition to his nation of beginning, New Zealand, when a three-Take a look at sequence will get below means at Lord’s on 2 June. It stays to be seen if Stokes may have a head coach alongside him, nevertheless, with the interview course of for the emptiness not beginning till 9 Might.
Whereas the likes of Gary Kirsten, Graham Ford and Simon Katich vie for that position, one other place needing to be stuffed is that of Take a look at vice-captain. Typically used to blood future leaders, it might require an skilled head, initially, given the probability that Stokes, a full-throttle cricketer who’s nursing a knee drawback, could effectively miss video games alongside the best way.
Root seems unlikely to step in whereas he focuses his energies on batting, and the one different batter assured of his spot is Jonny Bairstow after centuries in Sydney and Antigua this yr. Ought to the England hierarchy determine to put money into a youthful participant, Zak Crawley – mentored by Key throughout his profession – is a candidate.
There’s additionally an expectation that Stuart Broad – down to begin his season with Nottinghamshire on Thursday – and Jimmy Anderson will function within the Take a look at staff this summer time, with Stokes understood to be in favour of the veteran pair returning to the choice fold after they have been controversially dropped for the Caribbean tour.
It’s one in every of quite a few matters prone to be lined by Key at Lord’s on Thursday throughout his first public look as director of males’s cricket, together with the 42-year-old’s resolution to separate the head-coach roles by means of format and his general imaginative and prescient for the lads’s recreation at each worldwide and on the home stage.
Some semblance of a plan might be welcome, given there’s a management vacuum on the very prime of the ECB. On Wednesday the governing physique confirmed it has been pressured to restart the recruitment course of for the position of everlasting ECB chair that has been vacant since Ian Watmore resigned final October.
Ron Kalifa, a non-executive director on the board for the previous 18 months, was beforehand in command of the search however now seems prone to run for the position of chair himself after a press release from ECB confirmed “no single candidate was in a position to absolutely meet the factors”.
Barry O’Brien, interim chair for the previous eight months, has additionally stepped down for well being causes, along with his deputy, Darlow, taking up till the position is stuffed.
In the meantime, the England all-rounder Chris Woakes has signed a two-year contract extension with Warwickshire till a minimum of the tip of the 2024 season.
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