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Rob Key: The Hundred will ‘secure future of our game’ – but first-class cricket needed at height of summer

Rob Key talks to Sky Sports about the high-performance review into English cricket, discussing the importance of The Hundred, the proposed reduction in the number of domestic matches and what he has learned from former British Cycling chief Sir Dave Brailsford

Last Updated: 27/08/22 2:56pm


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England’s managing director Rob Key gives his thoughts on the high-performance review into English cricket, saying ‘we’re trying to make a better system’

England’s managing director Rob Key gives his thoughts on the high-performance review into English cricket, saying ‘we’re trying to make a better system’

England managing director of men’s cricket Rob Key says The Hundred will “secure the future of our game” – but is adamant red-ball matches must still be played at the height of summer.

A high-performance review, chaired by former England captain and director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss and which Key is part of, has recommended a reduction in the days of domestic cricket and a streamlined top division in the County Championship.

The Hundred, currently in its second season, is set to remain part of the calendar until at least 2028 with the tournament held in August during the school holidays.

Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket during the second LV= Insurance Test between England and South Africa at Emirates Old Trafford, Key said: “The Hundred is an integral part of the broadcast deal for one but I actually think it will do so much for our game, it will secure the future of our game.

“It is the best standard of white-ball cricket we have got, the best playing against the best. You want the best players and the best teams going at it over and over again and that’s what this does.

“But we can’t have people not playing first-class cricket in that window. I don’t want players not to be playing any red-ball cricket in that period. It just doesn’t work.

“Looking at this [England vs South Africa] series, it would have been better if we had been able to give our Test cricketers some red-ball cricket.

“The general consensus, though, is that we play far too much cricket. If you are a red-ball player only, like Dom Sibley is for example, there is no time to practise and prepare.

“It’s all travel-play, travel-play. In an ideal world, you want your players to be able to practise and prepare and still have time to recover and play.”

Sir Dave Brailsford has been part of the high-performance review into English cricket

Sir Dave Brailsford has been part of the high-performance review into English cricket

The high-performance review has featured input from the likes of Sir Dave Brailsford, the former performance director of British Cycling, and Dan Ashworth, the erstwhile director of elite development at the Football Association.

Key said: “What we didn’t do was say to them, ‘how do you think we can play a cover drive better?’ We said, ‘how does your system work?’ What are the priorities for your sport’.

“Sir Dave Brailsford spoke about the fact it is not just about winning, it’s about the style and the way you go about it and carry yourself as a team.

“[England Test captain] Ben Stokes and [coach] Brendon McCullum embody that, Joe Root, and I thought the Trent Bridge win [when England beat New Zealand earlier this summer after a blistering run chase] when you had a full crowd who had come in for free was the way you conduct yourself.

Key has praised the impact of England Test captain Ben Stokes, calling him 'an outstanding leader'

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Key has praised the impact of England Test captain Ben Stokes, calling him ‘an outstanding leader’

Key has praised the impact of England Test captain Ben Stokes, calling him ‘an outstanding leader’

“[This review] is not just about Test cricket. It’s about trying to come up with something that is best for English cricket.

“We’re trying to make a better system than what we’ve got now, to ensure we’ve got the best cricket possible.

“Now it’s for the game to debate. This is not us saying, ‘this is what we are doing, you have to get on board with it’. I reckon we can get the best structure we have had in my time.”

Key also confirmed to Sky Sports that he will appoint a national selector at some stage having been involved in picking players himself since he became director of cricket in April of this year.



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