Sport Key is set to unveiled as the ECB's new managing director
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Two candidates from outside cricket got to the final stages of the recruitment process that concluded with Rob Key emerging as the ECB's choice for new managing director.
Key, 42, is to be unveiled in the coming days pending the successful conclusion of negotiations on financial terms for the role, his first in a management position following seven post-playing years as a television commentator.
The fact that his first will be in what is English cricket's top job highlights the paucity of credible alternatives. As does the fact a couple of outsiders got so far.
Last month, acting MD Andrew Strauss said that the game in this country needed to be 'bold and ambitious' to address a malaise in Test cricket that has delivered just one win in 17 Test matches, and pursue a path leading to England being the best across all formats.
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He has shown a willingness to look outside the box by bringing in Sir Dave Brailsford, director of sport at Ineos Grenadiers cycling, as one of those to assist him in a new review into English cricket.
Receiving input from experts from other sports is something Strauss became familiar with during his time as England captain.
Simon Timson spent six years at the ECB between 2006-12, initially as head of science and medicine and later as head of England's development programme, having created a legacy of success as performance director for British Skeleton over the preceding 10 years.
Post ECB, as performance director for UK Sport, he helped Team GB become the first nation to surpass its medal total from a home Olympics, winning 27 golds in Rio in 2016.
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Then, at the Lawn Tennis Association, Timson launched a decade-long vision to make 'Great Britain one of the most respected tennis nations in the world for player development' by 2028. Three years later, Emma Raducanu became a champion.
The 51-year-old is the kind of individual to fit Strauss' mantra for something more than incremental change. Timson's appointment as performance director at Manchester City two years ago arguably discounted him for the ECB but it is understood individuals with similar abilities to prosper across different environments were not discouraged despite their lack of cricket-specific expertise.
However, in Key they have someone with extensive knowledge of the domestic game as a long-serving county captain, who has also maintained the respect of current players despite the tendency for relationships to become spiky when a former player picks up the microphone.
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Top of his to-do list when he severs ties with Sky this week will be to appoint a new Test captain following Joe Root's decision to quit. Root's resignation clears the path for his close friend and vice-captain Ben Stokes to step up without feeling disloyal.
Stokes, 31, was supportive of Ottis Gibson, twice formerly England bowling coach, getting the job when Trevor Bayliss departed in 2019. But then managing director Ashley Giles was keen on an Englishman and opted to promote Chris Silverwood from within.
Gibson, 53, recently took over at Yorkshire but could nevertheless come into the frame to head the Test team, his preferred format despite winning the Twenty20 World Cup as head coach of West Indies.
PAUL NEWMAN: It all points to Ben Stokes replacing Joe Root as captain .
PAUL NEWMAN: By resigning, Root has made it easier for the loyal Stokes to succeed him, rather than replace a friend who had been sacked. 'Been a great ride with you, my friend,' said Stokes on Instagram. 'Watching one of my great mates lead us out on to the field was a privilege. You have given everything for English cricket and we all want to say thank you for all your sacrifices and hard work.'Sportsmail revealed on March 23 that Key was in the running to become managing director and now he has emerged as the best candidate from a small field who disappointed kingmaker Sir Andrew Strauss.