Key, McCullum, Stokes told Anderson: It’s time to move on

England

Key, the managing director of the England men’s teams, regularly meets players for appraisals and told Anderson that they should meet in person. “When we made the decision and we thought, ‘OK, we need to go and meet Jimmy and discuss the future’, Brendon came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to fly over to England [from New Zealand],” Key told the BBC’s Test Match Special podcast.

“The three of us went up to see him: myself and Brendon caught the train up from London, and Stokesy was in Manchester, getting ready to fly out to America for a family holiday. We all met Jimmy in a hotel near the station and we had a conversation for about an hour and a half, which Baz led. I don’t think Jimmy was expecting it, but I don’t think it was completely unexpected.

Key said that Anderson had made the decision to play one final Test. “In the back of his mind, he knew that the time was coming, and we discussed lots of different things as well, and the future for Jimmy after playing… we didn’t impress upon him that he had to make the decision there, and then not so long ago, he decided that the Lord’s game was going to be his last.

“We just sort of said, ‘look, I think it’s time for us to move on.’ We’re coming to a stage now where we’ve got to start looking towards the future… people now need the opportunity to learn how to bowl with that new ball, to go through a day’s worth of Test cricket and then realise they’ve got to back it up the next day. Now’s the time that people have to start learning that.”

Stuart Broad, who retired after last summer’s Ashes, described the lack of experience in England’s post-Anderson attack as “scary” but Key said he was “so excited” about the prospect of fresh players winning opportunities. “Sometimes it’s like following a comedian who’s just absolutely brought the house down and everyone loves him… but that’s an opportunity for someone else,” he said.

Key said that England have been “pretty clear” with Robinson that he needs to become more robust. “At his best, when he’s running in and attacking the crease and he’s in rhythm, he’s a very, very good bowler,” he said. “When he’s down to 78-79mph, he goes back into the pack and there’s other guys that do what Ollie Robinson can do.”

Jofra Archer, another centrally-contracted fast bowler, is not in contention for Test cricket this summer but could play some part in Sussex’s 2nd XI fixture against Kent this week as he builds up his workload ahead of June’s T20 World Cup. Stokes, meanwhile, could feature in Durham’s County Championship fixture against Lancashire at Blackpool from Friday.

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