Alec Stewart in the frame for national selector role

Alec Stewart has emerged as the frontrunner to become the new England national selector.

Stewart, who has been director of cricket at Surrey for the past eight years, is believed to be highly rated by Rob Key, the England team’s managing director, given his detailed knowledge of the county circuit and the talent therein, and his own success in nurturing young talent at Surrey.

The role of national selector was discontinued in April 2021, when Key’s predecessor, Ashley Giles, dispensed with the services of the previous incumbent Ed Smith, and handed selection duties to the then-head coach across all formats, Chris Silverwood.

However, England’s subsequent collapse in form, culminating in a run of one win in 17 Tests until the start of Brendon McCullum’s tenure as head coach in May 2022 has prompted a rethink, with Key adamant from the outset of his appointment that he would be looking to reinstate the role.

Key’s decision to split the red- and white-ball coaching roles – with McCullum and Ben Stokes now in charge of the Test team, with Matthew Mott and Jos Buttler the coach-captain combination for the limited-overs formats – arguably increases the need for an independent selector to co-ordinate the priorities of the two formats.

Stewart, 59, had been one of the names in the frame for the MD role that eventually went to Key, but withdrew his interest due to family reasons. However, the selector’s role, which is expected to involve less time away from home, is likely to be more appealing as he weighs up his next career move.

Other names that have been mentioned in connection with the role include the former England players-turned-commentators Nick Knight, Steven Finn and Steve Harmison, with potential scope for the appointment of an assistant selector, similar to the role that James Taylor played alongside Smith.

Whoever is appointed will work closely with Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director, and David Court, the ECB’s talent identification lead, as well as a team of talent scouts in and around the 18 first-class counties.

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