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Ben Stokes will likely 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 function to Stokes on Tuesday throughout face-to-face talks within the north-east and although the 30‑12 months‑previous all‑rounder all the time 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 impartial 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 all the time 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 ascertain his starvation for this extra accountability, each as a linchpin of the Take a look at facet with bat and ball and having taken a four-month break final 12 months for his psychological well being.
Stokes has captained the Take a look at group – a four-wicket defeat towards West Indies in Southampton two years in the past when Root was on paternity go away – but it surely 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 group to a 3-0 sequence win towards Pakistan final 12 months 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 towards his nation of beginning, New Zealand, when a three-Take a look at sequence will get below approach 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 function, one other place needing to be stuffed is that of Take a look at vice-captain. Usually used to blood future leaders, it might require an skilled head, initially, given the chance that Stokes, a full-throttle cricketer who’s nursing a knee drawback, might properly miss video games alongside the way in which.
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 12 months. Ought to the England hierarchy resolve to put money into a youthful participant, Zak Crawley – mentored by Key throughout his profession – is a candidate.
There may be additionally an expectation that Stuart Broad – down to begin his season with Nottinghamshire on Thursday – and Jimmy Anderson will characteristic within the Take a look at group this summer season, with Stokes understood to be in favour of the veteran pair returning to the choice fold after they had been controversially dropped for the Caribbean tour.
It’s certainly one of a variety of matters more likely to be coated 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 choice to separate the head-coach roles by means of format and his total imaginative and prescient for the lads’s recreation at each worldwide and on the home degree.
Some semblance of a plan will likely be welcome, given there’s a management vacuum on the very prime of the ECB. On Wednesday the governing physique confirmed it has been compelled to restart the recruitment course of for the function 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 more likely to run for the function of chair himself after an announcement from ECB confirmed “no single candidate was capable of absolutely meet the factors”.
Barry O’Brien, interim chair for the previous eight months, has additionally stepped down for well being causes, together with his deputy, Darlow, taking on till the function is stuffed.
In the meantime, the England all-rounder Chris Woakes has signed a two-year contract extension with Warwickshire till at the very least the tip of the 2024 season.
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