Rob Key (full name Robert Key) is the new director of England men’s cricket and has formally advertised for two new separate head coaches for Test matches and white-ball, shorter formats.
England has had a winless winter in Test cricket and in T20 World Cup the team met its defeat in the semi-finals.
With the Test series against New Zealand looming, starting on June 2, the director does not have too much time on his hands. New in the job, hardly in blessed circumstances, Robert Key has been dealing with the Ashes defeat, departure of Chris Silverwood as head coach and Joe Root’ss resignation as Test captain.
Key is fortunate that Gary Kirsten, Graham Ford and Simon Katich are available for the Test role, while Katich may also be considered for the white-ball vacancy.
Only once in the past England have had separate coaches from 2012 to 2014 when Ashley Giles was the white-ball head coach and Andy Flower coached the Test team.
What if things do not go to plan?
What if the English Cricket fortunes dwindle?
Will Rob Key be in the firing line?
If former Indian cricket head coach Ravi Shastri is to be believed, Robert Key is already in the firing line. He is being judged already.
Speaking to UK’s The Guardian, Ravi Shastri said Robert Key will need to grow a “thick skin” and not be affected by it all.
Shastri not only suggested a way out for Robert Key, he also claimed there was a gang of “jealous people”, who did not want him to succeed.
Ravi Shastri was at in charge of India’s coaching staff between 2014 and 2021, except for one year when Anil Kumble ran the show.
Happy 11th, Champs #worldcup2011 – with @harbhajan_singh @sachin_rt @YUVSTRONG12 @imVkohli @msdhoni @ImZaheer @GautamGambhir @virendersehwag @iamyusufpathan @ashwinravi99 @ImRaina pic.twitter.com/qAgdSIu9N5
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) April 2, 2022
There are some uncanny similarities between Ravi Shastri and Robert Key. Robert Key has been an acclaimed commentator for a long time and doesn’t have a coaching degree just like Ravi Shastri.
“I didn’t have coaching badges [either]. Level one? Level two? **** that. And in a country like India, there is always jealousy or a gang of people willing you to fail. I had a thick skin, thicker than the leather of the Dukes ball you use. A real solid hide.
“And you need a bloody hide over here. Rob will develop this as he does the job, because every day you are judged. And I am glad he has a lot of captaincy experience from his time at Kent, because communication with the players is absolutely paramount,” Shastri has been quoted as telling The Guardian.
Shastri believes functioning of national cricket teams all over the cricketing world function is pretty similar.
“Rob may have more work with the domestic game but, when it comes to the national team, it is very similar. The most important thing is getting among the players and setting a tone from the outset: what you believe in, what you think of them and changing the mindset to compete and win.
“You have to be bullish and brutish in wanting to achieve that. For us, and now England, it was about setting the challenge of winning abroad, big time. I was very firm when it came to team culture: all the prima donnas and all that shit, that had to go out of the window early,” Shastri explained.
“…it was also outlining how we want to play: to be aggressive and ruthless, to up the fitness levels, to get a group of fast bowlers to take 20 wickets overseas. And it was about attitude, especially when playing the Aussies. I told the boys if one single expletive comes your way, give them three back: two in our language and one in theirs.”
With the Joe Root resignation, Shastri feels Ben Stokes would be the ideal choice to take the England team forward. He believes the adrenaline of captaincy could fire Stokes up to be something even more than the incredible player he is now.