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Ruled in or ruled out – who’s in the race to be England men’s head coach?

England head coach
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Amid plenty of discussion, debate, and conjecture, the job of England men’s head coach continues to be vacant.

Ever since Chris Silverwood was removed from the role in February, in the aftermath of a forgettable Ashes trip Down Under, there’s been considerable buzz around the identity of his successor. With Rob Key recently appointed managing director, a number of prominent names linked to the role have emerged, more so with reports suggesting that Key would be looking at a coaching split, dividing duties for red-ball and white-ball cricket.

While the landscape continues to shift every day, here’s where those in picture stand at the moment, along with those who’ve pulled out of the race.


Ruled in

Gary Kirsten

A strong contender who has come close to getting the job before. Kirsten came into the picture after reports suggested that Justin Langer had fallen out of the race following Rob Key’s preference to split the coaching roles. Kirsten was firmly in the race in 2019, before Chris Silverwood pipped him to the role, but the former India and South Africa head coach is interested and back in the reckoning this time. He’s currently serving as batting mentor at the Gujarat Titans in the IPL.

Graham Ford

Ford’s long-standing association with Rob Key gives him a possible edge: the 61-year-old was Kent’s director of cricket when Key was skipper and has been spoken highly of by England’s new managing director in the past. Ford worked as Ireland’s head coach from 2017 through 2021, being at the helm for 102 internationals before stepping away in November last year. He’s previously taken up coaching roles with Sri Lanka (two stints), South Africa, and Surrey.

Simon Katich

Given that most of the early chatter was around Justin Langer, Katich’s name emerged as a surprising twist. The current Manchester Originals coach has largely taken up white-ball roles in the past, but could go either side of the red-ball, white-ball split, as suggested by reports. Given Katich’s extensive county experience as a player, as well as captaincy and coaching experience, Katich remains a solid name on the contenders’ sheet.

In the conversation

Justin Langer

A favourite not too long ago, Langer’s name dropped a few rungs on this list after fresh reports stated that his position wasn’t as strong, especially with Key keen on splitting the coaching roles and reported reservations about his suitability of working alongside the likely next Test captain, Ben Stokes.

Paul Collingwood

England’s interim coach during their 1-0 loss to West Indies last month, Collingwood expressed interest in a long-term role when he was temporarily handed the reins, saying he’ll “never say never” to the prospect of taking on the job. Other candidates have emerged since, but Collingwood still remains in the picture, especially for the white-ball role.

Ruled out

Ricky Ponting

One of the game’s greats, Ponting has stayed involved in the game through coaching and broadcasting commitments but reportedly turned down a chance to take up the coveted job in England. He’s currently serving as head coach at Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

Mahela Jayawardene

The Sri Lanka great’s name briefly popped up in discussions, reportedly for the white-ball role, but didn’t appear keen on taking up the role. Currently the head coach at Mumbai Indians, Jayawardene has worked as a consultant with the England setup in the past.

Ottis Gibson

Gibson’s vast experience of playing in England, combined with his numerous recent coaching gigs, made him a worthy candidate, but the former quick reportedly turned down the chance after being approached by Andrew Strauss. He’s currently committed to his future with Yorkshire, where he took up the head coach’s role in January this year.


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