Andrew Strauss says ECB to launch high-performance review of English game

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The ECB is set to launch a high-performance review into English cricket with the ambition of making the England men’s team “the best in the world in all formats”, according to Interim managing director Andrew Strauss.

Speaking in Barbados where the second Test is due to start on Wednesday, Strauss laid out the plans for the review, for which recommendations are due to be published in September with a view to potentially restructuring the English season from 2023. He also confirmed that England hope to have a new head coach in place for the first Test of the summer, against New Zealand at Lord’s in June.

Addressing the Test team’s so-called “reset”, Strauss said: “The perception so far is that it’s all about red-ball cricket and that it’s all about the domestic game. But the way we’re approaching it, and I believe the only way you can approach these things is to start at the beginning, which is what is the scale of our ambition for the game in this country?

“And I believe we’re looking very strongly at being the best in the world in all formats. I think the knock-on effects, right the way through the game if the shop window is functioning well, are enormous, so as a game we need to get alignment behind that ambition.

“If you take a longer-term perspective on these things you have to say, ‘How can the two teams run concurrently alongside each other?’ and ‘How do we best support our white- and red-ball specialists to allow that to happen?'”

The review will be led by an independent body that is yet to be chosen and who will undertake the first two stages of the review before their recommendations are presented to the ECB board and the county chairs.

“We need to look at how the game is evolving,” Strauss said. “All of us know that the rise of white-ball and T20 cricket has been hugely dynamic and happened very quickly. So we need to understand how that affects our game and on the one hand how can we leverage that and on the other how do we protect the relevance and importance of the game in our country. And then we need to do a lot of independent analysis on getting information from the game on what’s working well and what’s not working well currently. So a very big consultation piece needs to be done.

“We want recommendations to be signed off in time for the 2023 domestic season so that really means by the end of September this year ideally. You could stretch it a bit but these projects can get very broad and you can get stuck. So it’s important to focus on people’s minds. If we’re going to do it we’ve got to do it for 2023.”

The review is just one of many significant developments expected at the ECB over the coming months, with a number of senior management positions only filled in an interim capacity. As well as the head coach vacancy, applications opened on Monday for the full-time men’s team managing director role (which Strauss is currently performing).

“I think the reaction [to dropping Anderson and Broad] was entirely predictable. You don’t do these things worried about the reaction, you do it because you think it’s the right thing to do”

Andrew Strauss

It has also been reported that England will revert to having a full-time selector, separate from the head coach, as was the case before Chris Silverwood’s job specification was expanded last year.

Asked whether he considered himself a candidate to return to the managing director position full time, having held a similar position between 2015 and 2018, Strauss was non-committal.

“I haven’t considered that really,” he said. “I’ve got unique personal circumstances that makes doing that role difficult and quite frankly there’s always value in getting a new perspective and new views. Nothing ever stays the same or goes backwards. I’m certain there’s going to be some good candidates for this role.

“The ambition is certainly to have the Test coach in place by that first Test of the summer. With recruitments there are all sorts of moving pieces, including notice periods. I don’t think we can categorically say that, but it’s the ambition.

On the question of splitting the head coach role between red ball and white ball, he said: “Ultimately, that will be the new director of cricket’s decision to make. My perspective is that it’s time to go down that route. We have unique schedules in this country. It is very hard to plan, prepare, play and review for one coach doing all formats. There are opportunities for us to make some performance gains in that respect. But again, that’ll be up to the new director of cricket.”

On the field, England came away from Antigua with a creditable draw. But the failure of their seamers to take a wicket with the new ball across the Test match, with Chris Woakes and Craig Overton proving particularly expensive in the first innings, led some observers to bemoan the decision to leave James Anderson and Stuart Broad at home – a decision that had already provoked severe backlash from England’s fans.

“I think the reaction was entirely predictable,” Strauss said. “You don’t do these things worried about what the reaction is, you do it because you think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s great to see [Matt] Fisher and [Saqib] Mahmood as part of the England set up.

“I think we’re learning about them all the time and they’re getting more and more comfortable in this group. And as we said right at the start it’s forced some of our senior players to have slightly different roles.

“It’s early days but the feedback I’m getting from the dressing room is that they’re accepting the challenge as a group of not having those senior players involved and I thought in terms of attitude, the willingness to do the hard graft, the spirit and togetherness were there to see. We didn’t get the result we wanted in Antigua but there were a lot of positives coming out of it.”

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby

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