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Stokes can lead revival of ‘talented’ England, says cricket chief

Ben Stokes

LONDON: England cricket chief Rob Key said a “talented” Test side can become a force again under new captain Ben Stokes despite a dismal run of results over the past 14 months.

Talismanic all-rounder Stokes was named Thursday as the successor to Joe Root, a close friend, in Key s first major announcement since becoming managing director of the England men s team.

The 30-year-old Stokes takes over the reins with England at a low ebb after an Ashes hammering in Australia and a dispiriting series defeat in the West Indies.

England, world champions in the white ball, 50-over format, have slumped to fifth in the world Test rankings after winning just one of their past 17 matches.

But Key, who played 15 Tests for England as a batter, was upbeat about the future, saying many of England s recent troubles were related to the extra pressures of playing during the coronavirus pandemic, including having to operate in bio-secure bubbles.

“We can make decisions, we can produce good cricketers and county cricket can be a breeding ground for great international cricketers as it was before,” Key told reporters at Lord s on Thursday.

“I m optimistic about English cricket, otherwise I wouldn t have taken this job.”

The 42-year-old, who has given up a career as a television pundit to take up his new job, succeeds Ashley Giles, who was sacked following the 4-0 flop in Australia.

That came after series losses in India and at home against New Zealand, while India led 2-1 after four Tests in the subsequent series in England, with the fifth and final match rescheduled to July this year after coronavirus cases in the visitors  camp.

Key is seeking to appoint separate red and white-ball coaches after Chris Silverwood was dismissed from his overarching coaching role after the Ashes rout and he remains convinced that whoever is looking after the Test side will be working with gifted players.

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