Rob Key advertises for separate Test and white-ball England head coaches | England cricket team

Rob Key has locked in his first major policy decision as director of England men’s cricket after formally advertising for two new head coaches, separated by way of Test and white-ball formats.

Though a widely anticipated split amid a bulging fixture and greater separation of players, it begins to firm up Key’s vision for the national teams after a winless winter in Test cricket and a T20 World Cup that ended in a semi-final defeat.

Key will further outline this when he is officially unveiled at Lord’s this Thursday, 10 days into a job that has seen him initially working on the leadership vacuum left by Chris Silverwood’s departure as head coach after the Ashes defeat and Joe Root’s more recent resignation as Test captain.

Ben Stokes is the clear favorite to replace Root and could even be confirmed by Key this week. But while Key has begun sounding out the market for the two new head coach roles, appointments are not imminent given an official deadline of May 6 and a first interview stage starting three days later.

It leaves less than a month to have a head coach in place before the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on 2 June and, given notice periods plus the likelihood of an overseas coach who may need to relocate, an interim may yet be required to start the international summer.

Gary Kirsten, Graham Ford and Simon Katich are the frontrunners for the Test role, with the latter possibly also under consideration for the white-ball vacancy. It will be only the second time England have split the coaching role by way of format, after Ashley Giles was the white-ball head coach from 2012 to 2014 and Andy Flower lasered his focus on the Test team.

While the volume of cricket is one reason for another attempt at this separation of coaching, Key chiefly believes the requirements of the two teams are so different now as to leave little option; while the Test team has bottomed out, the white-ball side is in a healthier state under Eoin Morgan’s captaincy.

That said, England cannot be complacent about the latter with a T20 World Cup in November and the team’s 50-over title defense next year. With Morgan now 35 and having made just one half century in his last 24 international innings, the appointment here may need to factor the needs of the next captain as well.

Paul Collingwood, who led both legs of England’s recent Caribbean tour, is a contender but the nature of the role a deeper talent pool than the Test set-up and a schedule that is likely to permit a second job coaching in the Indian Premier League means the former all-rounder’s ascension is not a given.

Both the Test and white-ball head coaches will need to show they are “accomplished strategists with clear and ambitious plans” and must develop “a playing style and culture that inspires future generations of players and supporters” although prior international experience is only desirable ”.

While both appointments will play “a central role in selecting the team for their respective format”, the role of national selector is expected to be restored and have the final say when allocating multi-format players.

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