ECB appoint Rob Key as Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket [Post#27]


T20I Captain
Aug 18, 2010
Post of the Week
I was watching Rob Key as a Sky pundit the other day and I was really impressed with his knowledge,he was speaking really fluently and provided some good observations and analysis,whereas a lot of pundits tend to be a Mr Hindsight or a Mr Point out the Obvious.

I wonder how he would have done as a long-term England captain,he has a lot of intelligence about the game and definitely should be a regular for Sky.

Did anyone else see him ?
Hes one of the better ones.

A countrymile from Azhar Mahmood unfortunately. At least tell some jokes or insider anecdotes man!!
Key and Knight are perhaps the best of the cricket epxerts Sky has. Holding has been a little disappointing, is amazing as a commentator, as a studio analyst he isn't as good yet.
Key and Knight are perhaps the best of the cricket epxerts Sky has. Holding has been a little disappointing, is amazing as a commentator, as a studio analyst he isn't as good yet.

Nick Knight is not only annoying but bias too. He is no expert I have seen his analysis shreded to peices time after time.
Key is good and knows his stuff...

Azhar on the other hand seems like a Lurkey who is giggling with embarassment :22:
Key is a captain and talks a lot of sense about the game. He should go into coaching.
Haven't heard much from Robert Sharma :nehra

I only remember him for the double hundred against West Indies
Nick Knight is not only annoying but bias too. He is no expert I have seen his analysis shreded to peices time after time.

He's normally been spot on everytime I have watched him in this WC. But then that's just for 5-6 matches, so maybe I need to give it more time.

Was scathing in his criticism of Swann for whining about a wet ball and also said I hope none of the England boys use " a long tour" as an excuse during the WC which was bang on IMO.

For India, he clearly said you are not winning anything with this fielding and bowling unit.
Nick Knight is not only annoying but bias too. He is no expert I have seen his analysis shreded to peices time after time.

I generally really enjoy listening to the majority of the English commentators and analysts but along with Botham I really cannot stand Nick Knight, he rarely offers anything to a discussion and on commentary he's one of the worst around imo.
Its ridiculous that Azhar isnt able to express himself better...the guy has spent plenty of time in England yet fails to put a sentence together without a stutter...
Its ridiculous that Azhar isnt able to express himself better...the guy has spent plenty of time in England yet fails to put a sentence together without a stutter...

True, but like the previous Pak winning teams, he's getting better as the Tournoment goes on, both with fluency and insight.

Just a shame we couldn't have Waqar. Youngster Beauty!

Rob Key and indeed Nick Knight, Alec "Pitch info;Money later" Stewart, Bumble, Holding, Atherton and even Marvin and Ajit "Check me avg it aint too bad" Agarkar are all excellent.

Can't stand Botham and Mark "Have to force every ounce of enthusiasm but still sounds fake especially when England are losing" Nicholas
Ian Harvey, Key and Butcher are the far as Ajju's concerned 'You Know'
True, but like the previous Pak winning teams, he's getting better as the Tournoment goes on, both with fluency and insight.

Just a shame we couldn't have Waqar. Youngster Beauty!

Rob Key and indeed Nick Knight, Alec "Pitch info;Money later" Stewart, Bumble, Holding, Atherton and even Marvin and Ajit "Check me avg it aint too bad" Agarkar are all excellent.

Can't stand Botham and Mark "Have to force every ounce of enthusiasm but still sounds fake especially when England are losing" Nicholas

You've gotta love Beefy. He is the most biased commentator in the world and he doesn't even try to hide it.

The Mark Lawrenson of cricket commentating and analysis.
Former England batsman Rob Key has revealed he was hospitalised over the weekend after suffering a mini stroke.

The 41-year-old, whose international career consisted of 15 Tests, five one-day internationals and a solitary Twenty20, revealed the news on his Instagram account on Monday morning.

Alongside a selfie, he wrote: “Long weekend. Turns out I’ve had a mini stroke.

“Thanks to everyone at the kent and Canterbury hospital especially Charlie And dr baht. Now got to eat food with no flavour and take pills #triffic”

Key’s greatest display in an England shirt was an innings of 221 against the West Indies in July 2004, the only time he would go past three figures in an international match.

However, he banked nearly 20,000 first-class runs between 1998 and 2015 in a stellar county career with Kent, leading them for nine seasons across two spells, before becoming a popular member of Sky Sports’ cricket coverage team.
''Key’s greatest display in an England shirt was an innings of 221 against the West Indies in July 2004, the only time he would go past three figures in an international match.

However, he banked nearly 20,000 first-class runs between 1998 and 2015 in a stellar county career with Kent, leading them for nine seasons across two spells, before becoming a popular member of Sky Sports’ cricket coverage team.''

If this was Pakistan he would have played hundreds of games like other domestic kings/international failures such Akmal.
Remember his pitch report before 2016 WT20 Ind vs Pak for Sky.

He said it is going turn square. Others were saying it will be flat.

He got it bang on.

Good cricketing brain.
Former England batsman Rob Key told Sky Sports he is feeling "pretty good" and "on the road to recovery" after suffering a mini stroke earlier this month.

The Sky Cricket pundit was treated at Kent and Canterbury Hospital but is now recuperating at home and preparing for another Virtual Test against Nasser Hussain later this week.

"At the moment I feel pretty good, it's been a long week but things seem to be on the road to recovery," said Key, who played 15 Tests for England with a top-score of 221 against West Indies at Lord's in 2004.

"I had a bizarre weekend a couple of weekends ago where I was playing Xbox with my lad, got up, and for about five seconds I lost vision.

"We rang NHS 111 and they said go and get yourself checked. I didn't think anything was wrong and when I had a few scans nothing was wrong there.

"One of the consultants said to stay around for an MRI and when I had that it turned out that I had had a mini-stroke, so it's been a week of rest and recuperation.

"I have been moved by the lovely messages but the sympathy can do now."

Key and Hussain will be marking 30 years of cricket on Sky by selecting two world XIs to go head to head from Thursday, with the match simulated by Sky Cricket statistician Benedict Bermange.

Hussain will select players from the first 15 years with Key picking from the most recent 15 - if a player featured in both eras, the era in which they played for the most years is the one they will be eligible for.

Key says the game will keep him occupied as he recovers from his health scare.

"It is nice to be doing something. I need to rest but things like [podcasts and vodcasts] keep you going. When you sit around doing nothing you start overthinking."
Hope he feels better. One of my favorite Sky pundits along with Ian Ward who should be commentating in more test matches.
A very nice guy.

Although some might not like him because he's a gora :p
ECB appoint Rob Key as Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket

Rob Key has today been confirmed as the new Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket.

Following a rigorous recruitment process, the former England international will take up the role immediately. Key will also relinquish his current role with Sky Sports.

Key will be responsible for the strategy behind the England Men’s cricket teams and the performance pathways leading into them. He will also take a key role as part of the High Performance Review which will begin shortly.

Prior to the appointment, Sir Andrew Strauss had undertaken the role on an interim basis following Ashley Giles’ departure in February after three years.

A former England cricketer and Kent captain, Key is a hugely respected figure in the game. Key played 21 times for England across all three formats including making a Test double hundred against the West Indies at Lord’s in 2004 which led to him being named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2005.

During a playing career that spanned three decades (1998-2015), Key amassed over 28,000 runs with 60 centuries. He captained Kent twice from 2006-2012 and then again from 2014-15. During his time as captain the side won the County Championship 2nd Division title in 2010 and reached three white ball domestic finals. He was also part of the England side who won the Under-19 World Cup for the first and only time in 1998.

After announcing his retirement in 2016, Key became a successful commentator for Sky Sports alongside writing a regular column for the Evening Standard. He has remained involved in the administration side of the game and has previously sat on the ECB’s Performance Cricket Committee.

Rob Key said, “It is an absolute honour to take up this role. 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.”

Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer said, “Following a thorough recruitment process, Rob stood out in a very competitive field. 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.”
I am sure Rob Key will be an asset for any organisation in whatever capacity he works in.
Good appointment.

Two big decisions for Rob to make straight away:

The new coach and the new captain.
Love listening to Rob Key.

However this is a huge job. You really need someone who has experience in running an administration. Also someone who will make brutal decisions in the interest of English Cricket.

English Cricket is on a high since the World Cup victory. Its very important this momentum continues esp since the Hundred has been a great success.

Key's first job should be to sort the teams out in the various formats. The test squads should only include those who have the mentality to play test cricket, not once in a blue moon stars. Get rid of Butler, Bairstow and others who simpy dont have the techinque to bat in this format. Key was a very good first class cricketer, scored a few runs in tests.
Key has got his ear to the ground when it comes to county cricket, certainly more so than any of the other pundits.

I suspect we may see a somewhat Misbah style of selection for the test squad where wily county pros are drafted into the side, rather than more fashionable names.

I expect players like Sam Northeast to get a call up, perhaps also Nick Gubbins, Tom Abell etc.

He has also talked up Crawley quite a bit in the past. Could we see Zak Crawley as captain?

My own outside choice has been Sam Billings and Key is quite close to him also.

He is a great appointment and I wish him success.
Rob Key has officially started his new job as managing director of England men's cricket, but what awaits him in his in tray?

Key is tasked with correcting a slide that has seen England win only one of their last 17 Test matches, a run which included a 4-0 Ashes drubbing over the winter that cost his predecessor Ashley Giles and head coach Chris Silverwood their jobs.

And that's where Key's work will start, with the search for a new head coach...

Who will lead England's Test team?

This is the biggest task that awaits Key, and the one his era as managing director is likely to be defined by.

"The next three or four decisions Key makes will be vital for the future of our cricket," Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports News upon Key's appointment. "That's one thing [former MD] Sir Andrew Strauss did well early.

"He got those big decisions right. He brought in Trevor Bayliss [as coach], he got that absolutely spot on."

Bayliss was instrumental in leading England's white-ball revolution as they went from World Cup no-hopers in 2015 to winners in 2019, although the Test team did stagnate somewhat under his watch.

Is the job too much for one man? Could the coaching roles be split for red-ball and white-ball cricket?

Nasser Hussain discusses whether Justin Langer would be a good fit as England coach and other possible candidates.
Key has previously stated that would be his preference, saying on the Sky Cricket podcast in February: "I would split the coaching. Not because it's a lot of work but because it's two very different teams at two different times.

"The [white-ball] team could do with a facilitator coach who can just keep delivering what they're doing but challenge them. The Test team needs a completely different style of coach - a driver of culture and environment."

Now Key just needs to decide precisely who he wants to place behind the wheel?

As important as Bayliss' appointment was in 2015, so, too, was the call to keep Eoin Morgan as captain of the white-ball side.

Whether Key would similarly have kept Joe Root on as Test captain, we'll never know, after Root stepped down from the role last week following England's wretched run of form over the last year.

Root's vice-captain Ben Stokes is the obvious choice to replace him and Sky Sports News understands that Key will talk with Stokes about the position this week.

Influential all-rounder Stokes only recently returned from a lengthy break from cricket last year "to prioritise his mental wellbeing", and the 30-year-old said as recently as January that he "never really had an ambition to be a captain".

Former England captain Michael Atherton believes Ben Stokes is the 'obvious' candidate to replace Joe Root' as England's Test skipper.
That statement should also be seen in the context of a loyal Root supporter sticking up for his skipper and friend who had come up under fire following England's Ashes humiliation.

Speaking over the weekend, Hussain urged Key to sound out Stokes.

"I would make a journey up the A1 to speak to Ben Stokes to see where he is mentally, physically, and if he wants the job and feels he's in the right place to do the job," Hussain told Sky Sports News.

Beyond Stokes, it's fairly slim pickings for the role, with most not even assured of their spot in the starting Test team let alone the captaincy.

If Key can convince Stokes that the job is for him, it would represent a sizeable coup early in his tenure.

County cricket's restructure

It is widely accepted that at the heart of any England red-ball reset must be sweeping changes to the structure of domestic cricket in this country.

Root even confronted the issue head on in the aftermath of the latest Ashes embarrassment over the winter, saying at the conclusion of the fifth Test in Hobart: "Anyone coming into this Test team at the minute is doing it in spite of county cricket, not because of county cricket."

The current system has seen four-day cricket marginalised to the far reaches of the 'summer' calendar, with County Championship matches being played in early April and as late as September, stretching even into October last year.

It has resulted in England players often being undercooked during the busy Test summer, while raw pace bowlers and promising spinners are too often being sidelined as the medium-pace county pro dominates on green, seamer-friendly pitches that also prevent batters from getting important runs and spending time in the middle.

Strauss said he wanted new recommendations to be signed off "in time for the 2023 domestic season", and Key seemingly already has a clear vision in mind, as he outlined when speaking on a Sky Cricket vodcast in January.

Rob Key has set out his vision of what he would do to improve the quality of county cricket in England.

"Play 50-over cricket at the start of the summer, and then I'd go to 10 games in the County Championship," Key said.

"I'd take the best 12 teams in the country and I'd put them in two divisions, A and B - that's then your top-flight cricket - and the two winners of those divisions play to decide who wins the Championship. The bottom division [of six], if you finish in the top two of that, you replace one team from each of the A and B tables.

"That way, you're saying to 12 counties - which is the amount you need to pass a vote - you're still in top-flight cricket. And then, hopefully, with the bottom division, in theory it's easier for them to get into top-flight cricket because you only have to be in the top two out of six teams rather than the nine it is now.

Sky Sports' Rob Key says England's cricketers play plenty of red ball cricket but not at a high enough level to improve the Test side.

"You'd have the T20 Blast continue to run on a Friday night right throughout the summer, and you'd have The Hundred, which is needed. But during The Hundred, you should have four teams - North, East, South and West - comprising of the best of the rest and any England players you need to play, they'd play four or five-day cricket throughout that period."

Bring back a national selector?

England's miserable year in Test cricket has coincided with a change in selection, with former national selector Ed Smith relieved of his duties almost exactly a year ago.

Giles instead handed responsibility to Silverwood and captains Root and Morgan to make the final call on who should be called up to the respective red-ball and white-ball teams.

The theory may have been sound, but in practice it proved unmanageable, particularly for Silverwood who was stretched too thin across a relentless international schedule - across all three formats - and ultimately paid the price, as did Giles, with his job.

Rob Key claims the decision to appoint Chris Silverwood as head coach for all formats of the game and to allow him selection powers was wrong.

Key said at the time of Silverwood's sacking that the head coach was given an "impossible task" and that he expected "we'll probably have some form of selection panel back".

But who will make up that panel? And could Smith, who put his name forward for the MD role that Key now inhabits, make a shock return as national selector?

If not him, then who? Could Key, a keen follower of county cricket and possessing an eye for talent, himself have a role in selection?

"I know Rob is deeply passionate about county cricket - he was texting me two weeks ago about some young players he was watching," Hussain said upon his appointment. "I can guarantee you he'll be watching a feed of a county game."

England's Test selection needs a shake-up, could Key place himself at the centre of that?

What of Anderson and Broad?
Staying with selection, what of the futures of England's two leading Test wicket-takers of all time?

James Anderson is 39, Stuart Broad 35, but they combine for a staggering 1,177 wickets between them and the omission of both from England's recent tour of the West Indies was a constant cloud that hung over the series.

Rob Key joins Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton to look at England’s selections for the West Indies Test tour, notably the dropping of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Far from helping England's efforts to move on was the fact that Ollie Robinson, who would likely have spearheaded the attack in the Caribbean after a hugely impressive start to his Test career, missed all three Tests due to a back spasm, while Mark Wood sat out of two-and-a-half after picking up a right elbow injury in the opener in Antigua.

Saqib Mahmood made his debut and was a real positive, showing good pace and guile in taking six wickets in his first two Tests at an average of 22.83. Matt Fisher also acquitted himself well on debut in Barbados, but Chris Woakes' struggles overseas continued and Craig Overton also failed to have much of an impact.

Elsewhere, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Sam Curran all failed to make the trip due to injury and while Curran stands a chance of being ready for the first Test of the summer, the road to recovery is a much longer one for the former two.

It all means that Anderson and Broad are surely worthy of spots in England's best Test team come their summer opener against New Zealand on June 2. And for a side that, of late, has been all too guilty of looking too far ahead and always future-planning for The Ashes, they would be wise to instead focus on the here and now.

Anderson and Broad aren't the future, but England need to remember how to win Test matches again, and there aren't many better to help them do so in home conditions.

Former English player and England’s Managing Director of Cricket Rob Key has said that Pakistan is the nicest country he has ever visited. During Australia’s tour of Pakistan, Key was one of the commentators, and the 42-year-old stated that England’s impression of the country is incorrect. He also revealed that he was taken care of better than ever.

Pakistan hosted Australia for the first time after 1998 as the two teams played three Test series, as many ODIs, and a one-off T20I. The visitors defeated the hosts in the Test series by 1-0, but Pakistan bounced back to clinch the ODI series 2-1. The tour ended with Australia winning the only T20I.

“I was a bit nervous before when I came out here, I knew very little about Pakistan but I know it was two very good teams and a historic tour, it’s been a privilege to be part of it,” Key said in a video released by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

“I think in England, we have this perception of Pakistan there’s nowhere near right actually, we have no idea how good it really is and it’s just been fantastic. I think hospitality is second to none, all the countries I’ve been to this is the best by an absolute mile,” he added.

The series ended on a high note as the world witnessed some really good moments in the game. From bad pitches to epic encounters to iconic victories – the series saw it all. The historic series paved way for England, New Zealand, and West Indies to travel to Pakistan, as the three nations will be travelling Pakistan in the upcoming season.

Cummins bowling to Babar during Tests was the highlight of the tour: Rob Key

Key also felt that Pat Cummins and Babar Azam facing each other was one of the best instances of the series. “I think probably the moments I remember the most are when you had probably two of the best in the world going at it which only Test cricket can bring,” he said.

“So especially in the second Test when Cummins was bowling at the top of his game against Babar Azam who was at the top of his game, they were the moments because Test cricket is about the journey. It is not always about the results and seeing those two go at it in last innings, that’s as good as it gets,” he added.

In his concluding words, he praised Pakistan’s hospitality and the delicacies. “Pakistan is one of the great countries actually it is one of place you have to come and you have to see the food is better than anywhere else and there’s a very good golf course in Lahore.”
Rob Key seems sorted. He doesn't have fancy degrees to back him or coaching certificates, management experience etc. but he knows his cricket.

Not sure what his show on sky his called but when he Nasser and Athers get together, surprisingly more often than not you'd actually see him make more sense.

Apparently he's got very good rapport with players too. And I am sure it means good news for Anderson-Broad because he backs them.

Easy assignment to start off, a sole test against a cold, practice-less India side should be easy to knock off.
Rob Key seems sorted. He doesn't have fancy degrees to back him or coaching certificates, management experience etc. but he knows his cricket.

Not sure what his show on sky his called but when he Nasser and Athers get together, surprisingly more often than not you'd actually see him make more sense.

Apparently he's got very good rapport with players too. And I am sure it means good news for Anderson-Broad because he backs them.

Easy assignment to start off, a sole test against a cold, practice-less India side should be easy to knock off.

3 Tests against New Zealand before that.

I don’t think he will be expected to win that one, and the one-off Test against India will be a bit of a lottery — but the ECB will want to see a good result and ideally a win in the Test series against South Africa.

Will be an interesting season.
The ECB's managing director of cricket, Rob Key, has been a busy man since landing the role last month ahead of a busy summer of international cricket.

The former England batsman has named Ben Stokes as Joe Root's successor and is now aiming to name two separate coaches for the Test and white-ball teams.

However, Key still had time to sit down with Sportsmail's NASSER HUSSAIN to discuss his new captain, the lack of English coaches in the game, and why rhetoric from both sides of the debate around The Hundred annoys him.

Nasser Hussain: Was it something we said? Were you not getting enough air time at Sky? Why this sudden decision to up and go?

Rob Key: It would have been just after the Ashes when Ashley Giles, Chris Silverwood and Graham Thorpe had all gone. I play golf occasionally with Andrew Strauss and he said, 'Do you fancy doing a real job?' I told him I could be interested but I never thought I wouldn't be working with Sky. Unless they sacked me!

But things moved quickly and I found myself walking into Lord's going from a job I loved. The attraction was that I felt I could make a difference. That was the only thing that could have got me away from doing what I was doing. The chance to see if I could have an impact on English cricket.

Hussain: The easy option was to go on talking a good game but this is the more difficult road. You were an excellent broadcaster and could have carried on doing that…

Key: And to be honest it's like when you get picked for England as a player and you get butterflies because you have no idea if you're going to be any good. You just hope you are.

I have faith in my views and that challenge is exciting. Every time I get up in the morning now there's something to think about and I have to put my money where my mouth is.

Hussain: What did you make of the reaction to your appointment? Some people said 'this is another case of jobs for the boys. What does he know about administration?'

Key: I don't avoid reading things but I don't seek reaction. A lot of players said to me when I was at Sky, 'I don't care what you say about me' and then reeled off the last 20 times I'd mentioned them. It doesn't really bother me. I'm not trying to work out astrophysics. I'm trying to make decisions on cricket and I reckon I've got 30 years experience of that.

I've worked with the best and worst coaches, I've been in the system, I've seen how the ECB works and I did a lot of administrative stuff at Kent. What you do in any leadership role is get the best people in, support them and help them have an impact.

Hussain: I liked your answer to the suggestion Ben Stokes was the only choice as Test captain. You said, 'if there had been 10 choices I'd have gone for Ben' and I know if I were captain that would make me feel a million dollars. But he did have mental health issues last year. How much did you have to make sure he was in the right place to do the job?

Key: You have to make sure the captain is in the right stage of his life to take it on. The one thing I have seen is that the last couple of years in bubbles have been horrendous and that was not only tough for Ben but the whole team. Ben was strong enough to take himself out of that environment for a while and I think that's a sign of courage and mental strength.

Hussain: And wasn't it great to see Stokes bat the way he did on his return for Durham at Worcester on Friday?

Key: That's the thing about Ben. Every time he is given extra responsibility he responds like that. People forget when he was given the No 6 for England after being down the order he immediately hit a brilliant hundred under pressure against New Zealand. Let's hope with that added responsibility and not being in bubbles any more there's more like Friday's hundred to come.

Hussain: Your next major decision is the coaches. Why have you decided to split the role and how will you make sure you don't end up with people being pulled one way then the other, as it was when Andy Flower and Ashley Giles shared the role?

Key: There's lots of reasons but one of the main ones is that England's schedule is so busy. If there was one coach they would oversee a series and then jump on a plane and go straight into another format. There will have to be a complete change of thinking as to how we organise the coaching and I think other countries will follow even though they don't play as much cricket as England.

There's more understanding of that among the coaches too. We have a pretty good field of candidates and nearly all of them said, 'I wouldn't be going for this if it was just one coach for all formats'. You want the best people and you build the structure around them. Then it will be up to me to manage the relationship between the two.

Hussain: Your problem is some of the best coaches are working in the Indian Premier League. What if they say, 'I'd like the job but I'd like to carry on working in the IPL?'

Key: It's not an issue if they're the best person. You have to move with the times and I can't see why Jos Buttler, for instance, could play the whole IPL but our coaches couldn't be there for it all. Who knows where the IPL will be in five years' time but at the moment there's no international cricket when the IPL's on. I'd rather have the best person for 10 months a year than someone not as good for 12.

Hussain: It looks like most of the best coaching candidates this time are from overseas. There are exceptions. Mark Robinson for one. Mark Alleyne. But why are we not producing more English coaches to compete for these jobs?

Key: It's gone on for a long time. It hasn't gone particularly well for a couple of English coaches who have had the main job so their reputation is not as good as it should be. The caveat to that is we don't give them enough opportunities.

We have to look at how we educate our coaches. You want to invest in the right people. There are a lot of other things you can do in the game. You and I went to the other side of the fence in the media and that's very attractive but we have to make sure we keep an eye on the best people coming through the system because in a few years they might be ready to become England coach.

Hussain: Ashley Giles was very much a players' director of cricket. I think you once said, 'the only thing he said no to was football'.

Key: Let's get this right. I said that to you off air and then you nicked it for one of your Mail columns!

Hussain: I nicked all your best lines. There weren't many. You're trying to distract me now. Are you willing to say no to players? If a player wants to take up a million-pound IPL deal but you think it's better for English red-ball cricket for him not to go are you strong enough to make an unpopular decision?

Key: I don't have an issue with that. These things are not binary. It's not simply that you can tell a player not to go to the IPL because what happens when he then turns round and says, 'OK, I don't want a central contract, I'll go down a different route'. Any decision won't be a hard one to make if it's the right thing to do. If a player wants to do something that won't benefit English cricket the answer will be no.

Hussain: The viewing figures for our Sky vodcasts have gone through the roof because every journalist has gone back over them to see what you said about various people. Do you have to be consistent now with what you've said over the years or do you see things differently?

Key: I don't think you ever get married to one position. You have to be able to adapt. The whole world seems to think if you have a view on something you can't flinch from it. That's the biggest load of nonsense ever. Things evolve. Players get better.

They might prove you wrong and then you have to put your hands up. We get so worried about being wrong but the worst thing is if you stick with something to save face even when you know it's wrong. I'll just try to pivot quickly and pretend I never said something!

Hussain: There must be two Rob Keys out there. There was one on the Cricket Show who said he agreed with Strauss's decision to leave Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad at home when England went to the Caribbean but the other one has been to see Jimmy and Broady and told them he loves them and wants them back in the team!

Key: I understood that decision. I had no issue with what Straussy was trying to do. But my opinion now is that they should come back. I think Ben was prepared for an argument when we spoke. He said, 'Right, Jimmy and Broady are coming back'. And I said, 'Yes, that's fine'. Then we moved on.

I don't look at everything as black or white. If there's logic in something then it's fine. For me there was no logic in England leaving Alastair Cook out of the 2015 World Cup and then taking Gary Ballance. No part of me understood why they would do that but part of me could understand why they wanted to leave Broad and Anderson at home this time and find out about other bowlers away from home.

Hussain: You are prioritising Test cricket and understandably so but how important is it not to take your eye off the white-ball sides?

Key: It's important not to take our white-ball success for granted because it might suddenly just hit us that we're not as good as we were. We've got to keep evolving. Whoever comes in as coach of the white-ball teams cannot just be a facilitator saying, 'There you are Eoin. It's all yours'. They have to have one eye on always making the side better.

Hussain: Another important decision you have to make is on selection. How difficult is it finding a national selector and will you be involved? Your job depends on how England are playing so should you help pick the players?

Key: You want the best person and at the moment I don't know who that is. The national selector is a good job but it's a tough one and in a perfect world you won't have your managing director doing it. Selection might involve the captain and coach, depending on how they see it, and Ben Stokes has a lot of value to add to that.

We do have enough good people around to debate a team. You always should have an odd number and then you have a vote. For now I can chair that debate. I'll take time to find out who that selector should be to make sure it's the right choice.

Hussain: Ravi Shastri said recently you would have to develop a thick skin. Do you think you'll need to when pundits like me point the gun in your direction? Or will you be the same old Rob who will go with the flow when the flak is flying?

Key: Let's take you as an example. If I want your opinion I'll ask for it. I'm not going to tune in to the Sky vodcasts to see what you think. The absolute key is that I don't flinch from the path I want to go on. It doesn't mean I can't adapt because if someone says something in the media I should work out if there's merit in it.

But ultimately I can't let what people might think of me influence my decision making. I will get nailed for this but at Sky I would sometimes search my name on Twitter and find loads of people saying, 'he's this, he's that…'.

Hussain: You would search your name on Twitter!

Key: Don't you start. I learnt it from you! And every now and then on Twitter I would see something that could help me. You just have to be thick-skinned about it, as Ravi said.

Hussain: Are you encouraged by the start to this season? Pitches have been pretty good, overseas players look great, the standard in the Championship has been high and spinners are bowling…

Key: What we've seen so far shows how vital pitches are. People can talk about structures, how many Championship or Blast games you have, white-ball focus and all these things but none of it matters if you play on poor wickets.

I've been very pleased to see batsmen getting big scores and we're at a point where there's almost a bit of a log jam of players competing for middle order places. That's what you want to see.

Hussain: I'm not sure this is your remit but people will want to know what you think about the domestic game. A lot of people love having 18 counties and the system made us the players we were. But some, Kevin Pietersen for example, say there are too many counties, too many players and they should be reduced to prioritise quality over quantity. Where do you stand?

Key: County cricket has done and can keep producing quality cricketers if the environment is right. Some of our greatest cricketers have come out of county cricket. Pretty much our most successful time as an England team in modern memory came when you gave up the captaincy and Michael Vaughan took over.

So it's like from the end of Hussain to the end of Strauss. In 2005 they beat that great Australian side who smashed you every time and people like Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones and most of the others came from county cricket.

I'm optimistic about the county game. Does it need tweaking? Probably because whether people like it or not we have to secure this game for the next generation. It would be lovely if people would fall in love with cricket the way we did but my kids do not do things the way we did. There are so many more options for them.

Hussain: So are you still a fan of the Hundred now you're on the other side of the fence? We saw how good it was last year but now you have to fit that in with creating a better red-ball side?

Key: I'm still a fan of it. I saw the crowds last year. My wife texted me the other day saying, 'I'm getting some Hundred tickets'. And I thought, 'I can probably get them for free now!' But the point is she went with my kids, who are 15 and 13, last year and loved it.

It's so important we make sure in a competitive market — and I'm sounding like a corporate numpty now — we give kids a way they can fall in love with this game and then move on to other forms. I'm not negative about it. I think we can have everything in this country.

The rhetoric from both sides annoys me. People who either support the Hundred or don't want it are entrenched in their view and they will not budge. That gets you nowhere. I think we can have the Hundred that will engage the next generation but also have a good Test side.

We have some really good cricketers who haven't been playing to their potential. It might be Covid and the conditions but we've not been playing anything near our best. The players are so much better than they've shown. It might take a bit of time but hopefully we can prove that. And county cricket can still be a breeding ground for international cricketers.

Hussain: How long before we see the impact of the Rob Key revolution?

Key: I don't think it's the Rob Key revolution! My imprint, if that's the right word, will be the coaches. My job is to employ the best coaches to work with Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan and then it's their teams to run with. I'll be there to make sure they deliver on everything they say they are going to do.

Hussain: Has there been a minute so far when you've stopped and thought, 'Why have I done this? I had a cushy number at Sky and I'd become an excellent broadcaster'.

Key: When I was on that train on the first day I was looking around at 6.30am thinking, 'this is different'. But then you get into it and try to work things out and that's the exciting part. So no regrets yet!

Hussain: Good luck Rob, I wish you well…

Key: Good sign off!
Key’s positive and slightly unorthodox outlook gives me a bit of hope for the future of English cricket.

It all goes back to the appointment of Rob Key as England’s managing director.

No one’s heard a peep from him since. I’m one of his best mates, and I’ve not heard a dickie bird either.

He’s appointed Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes — and disappeared into the sunset! I know he’ll be worried about his putting stroke. But it’s obvious he won’t be worried about anything else.