Sky Sports’ Mark Butcher thinks England should have one head coach for both red and white-ball cricket and a “good and reliable” chairman of selectors; Butcher feels Ben Stokes more likely to take on England captaincy given Joe Root was not sacked but resigned from the role
Last Updated: 19/04/22 6:10pm
Mark Butcher believes England’s new managing director of cricket Rob Key should appoint one head coach across all forms and bring back the role of national selector.
Key, appointed as Ashley Giles’ successor on Sunday, stated during his time as a Sky Sports pundit that the coaching roles should be split between red and white-ball cricket.
The role of national selector was abolished last year, with Ed Smith leaving the England and Wales Cricket Board and then-head coach Chris Silverwood – who was sacked after the 4-0 Ashes thrashing this winter – charged with heading up selection.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Butcher suggested Smith could return to his former job and also explained his concerns over having two separate head coaches.
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The Sky Sports analyst and former England and Surrey batter said: “I don’t necessarily subscribe to the view that the coaching roles should be split. I still think you should have one man in charge.
“Yes, because of the way the scheduling is, one man would not be able to fulfil all the roles and in that case you need good assistant coaches and people you can delegate to.
“But I would rather have one man in charge of the whole thing for the simple reason that it is human nature that if you have players moving between two dressing rooms under different leaders they are going to prefer the way one guy does it to the other. I think one man is the key.
“I don’t have a preferred candidate but I think if you have the right team – director of cricket, a good and reliable, and perhaps someone who has been in the job before, such as Ed Smith, as chairman of selectors on the outside – then the captain is able to go out there and make the team his own.
“The coach should be a facilitator and bring out the best in the players he has, allowing the captain to run the ship. The captain, unlike in football, is the most important person and his decisions stick.”
‘Stokes is perhaps the only captaincy option’
Ben Stokes is the overwhelming favourite to succeed Joe Root as Test captain with Key set for talks with the all-rounder this week following Root’s decision to relinquish the role.
Butcher said: “In other times I would say don’t give Ben Stokes the captaincy, he is too important as a player and a talisman.
“He leads by example by dint of his performances on the field and doesn’t need to be captain for people to follow him.
“However, only himself and Root are 100 per cent guaranteed picks so he is perhaps the only person who can be given the job.
“If Stokes wants to take on the role, that’s the end of the conversation and I think it is made easier by the fact that Root has stepped down rather than been fired.
“I think Stokes would have found it difficult to step into the role under those circumstances out of loyalty to his pal but in these circumstances I think the way is clear.”
‘Key won’t fluff the big issues’
On Key’s appointment, Butcher added: “I have every faith that he will go in there with the remit to shake things up. He is certainly not an inside appointment… he comes fresh from a job where he had to give an opinion on things.
“He has a lot of fresh ideas and is not afraid to canvas opinion, either – or upset people. He is always keen to fight his corner. He won’t fluff any big issues and, let’s face it, there are lots of them.
“Also, because he is an outsider not versed in management speak, he also has a rather healthy line in cynicism which can be handy when dealing with people who talk in rhymes and riddles.
“He knows the game inside out and has an enormous amount of respect from good judges, both those still playing the game and those on the outside.
“He is going to come in with a fresh angle – but also with very little experience of working in huge organisations so it is an incredibly brave call for him to take it on.
“I have an enormous amount of respect for someone who won’t just talk about making changes but is the man to go in and implement them, so it’s a very exciting and nerve-racking time for him.”