New England cricket MD Rob Key has tough job on trying to sort out mess he’s been left with - Chris Waters

FORGIVE me if I am not exactly flush with excitement following the appointment of Rob Key as managing director of England men’s cricket.

It is not that I have anything against Key; far from it. He seems a cheerful chap, comes across well on television and was a good player and captain back in the day. No, it’s just that you could put Alicia Keys in charge of that set-up, let alone Rob Key, and it probably wouldn’t make a jot of difference.

The system itself is fundamentally flawed, the game a mess of conflicting priorities, and there is no way now of turning back the clock.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Consider one of the first tasks in Key’s in-tray. As MD, he will have a big input into the so-called high performance review into English cricket being conducted by Sir Andrew Strauss, which is designed to make sense of yet another Ashes defeat since the predictable failure of the previous review. But what is there to make sense of that has not been blindingly obvious for the past few years?

TOUGH JOB: New England cricket MD Rob Key Picture: Visionhaus/Getty Images

In a nutshell, the schedule is a mess and it cannot be decluttered without upsetting someone (of course, it will be lovers of the County Championship, with the number of matches set to be reduced), a situation exacerbated by the introduction of The Hundred, a concept that Key endorses.

There is simply no way of balancing the needs and wants of a sport that has been turned upside down by greed and which has effectively become two sports in one – first we have the sport of white-ball cricket, with its various formats and franchise tournaments; then we have the sport of red-ball cricket, the first-class/Test match version.

These two sports are increasingly incompatible and yet they must somehow rub along together like a marriage in which the two parties stay together for the sake of the children. There is simply no way of sorting out the chaos to everyone’s satisfaction; the only thing that Key or anyone else can do is try to make the best of a bad job.

Why do we need a managing director of England men’s cricket anyway and what does he do? Good question. No use asking me.

GONE: Former England captain Joe Root Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

I have read various articles highlighting the main issues that Key must address – the appointment of a new Test captain; whether to split the red and white-ball coaching jobs; whether to return to the system of having a separate selection panel, and so on. The first one is easy (Ben Stokes, because there is no one else), the second one is surely “yes” because there are too many different formats/demands for one coach to deal with, and the third one I am ambivalent about. But this is surely money for old rope. What will Key do for the rest of the year?

People say that Key is shrewd, unafraid to take tough decisions and a good appointment. Let’s hope so. Personally, had England appointed an MD who had come in and said from the off that The Hundred is a fourth format we could well do without, made the Championship and its scheduling his top priority, and talked up the red-ball game for all he was worth, then I might have sat up and taken notice.

Of course, had Key done that, he wouldn’t have got the job in the first place.