England’s new Test captain Ben Stokes wants pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad to return to the team, says managing director Rob Key.
Anderson and Broad, England’s top two leading Test wicket-takers, were left out of the West Indies tour in March.
But Stokes, who was confirmed as Test skipper on Thursday, wants the duo to return this summer when England play New Zealand, South Africa and India.
“We want to pick the best team we can,” said Key.
“We’re not going to overthink selection.”
Key was speaking for the first time after being appointed England’s director of men’s cricket earlier this month.
Prior to Key’s appointment, interim director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss left out 39-year-old Anderson and 35-year-old Broad for the West Indies tour in an attempt to build for the future following England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat.
England lost 1-0 against West Indies as their winless run stretched to nine Tests.
Speaking after appointing Stokes as captain, Key told BBC sports editor Dan Roan: “One of the first things Ben Stokes said was ‘Jimmy and Broady are coming back’ and I agree.
“It might’ve been a different story had we not agreed. But it wasn’t up for debate.”
Former Kent and England batter turned TV pundit Key covered a range of topics at his unveiling at Lord’s, including Stokes, the vacant head coach roles, former captain Joe Root and his vision for the team moving forward.
The appointment of Stokes, who replaces Root after his resignation earlier this month, was widely expected amid few options in a struggling team.
“My first question was ‘Ben, do you want to do this job?’,” said Key,
“As soon as he said yes he was very keen to do it, it took a lot of the thinking out of it.”
But, as an all-rounder who plays all three formats, having also took a break to manage his mental wellbeing last year, doubts have been raised about Stokes’ suitability for the role.
Key said he spoke to those close to the 30-year-old before making a decision.
“Every single one of them said they felt he’d be an excellent captain and they were very honest about the best way to manage him,” he added.
“He epitomises everything our red-ball team needs. I just want him to go out and do that and lead from the front.”
Key said he believed Stokes could continue to play for England’s Test, 50-over and Twenty20 teams but they “have to be smart” about managing his workload.
Coaches and selection
Despite filling the captaincy vacancy, England remain without a head coach following Chris Silverwood’s sacking after the Ashes.
Key wants to appoint split coaches for Test and white-ball cricket, with former South Africa batter Gary Kirsten and ex-Australia batter Simon Katich are among those linked.
Interviews are due to take place early next month and Key said he is “optimistic” the Test coach will be in place by the first Test of the summer, which begins on 2 June against New Zealand.
“There are some good names coming in from English cricket and world cricket,” said Key. “I’m trying to find out about the ones I might not know so much about.”
Key also said he plans to re-establish the national selector role which was scrapped under his predecessor Ashley Giles – although he said it is not yet clear who will fill the position.
Wishes for Test team
Key takes over with England’s Test team at one of their lowest points in recent memory, with just one win in their past 17 Tests.
“We need to change the mentality of England’s red-ball cricket,” he said.
Key drew parallels to the ‘white-ball’ reset England undertook in 2015, which led to them winning the 2019 World Cup, but suggested there would not be wholesale changes in the Test team.
“There are talented cricketers in there,” he said. “We just haven’t got the best out of them.
“There is plenty of talent. It’s just about when they come in how they can keep producing.”
More to follow