Marcus North and Justin Langer have emerged as front-runners for Test positions


The red-ball reset in England cannot begin in earnest until a new director of cricket is confirmed. Marcus North, an Australian, has emerged as the frontrunner for the role, which is expected to be determined next month.

North, who has played 21 Tests for his country, has applied for the position, which was posted earlier this month by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Former national selector Ed Smith and former Kent captain and Sky pundit Rob Key are considered to be the other two major contenders for the position. The role was vacated by Ashley Giles in January following England's Ashes defeat in Australia.

Mark Nicholas, a well-known broadcaster and former Hampshire captain, was reportedly rumoured to have applied for the job on Monday.

By the middle of next month, interim director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss is anticipated to make a choice on who will take over on a permanent basis.

The new director of cricket can then begin the search for a head coach — or coaches, as the position is likely to be split between red and white-ball cricket – ahead of the start of the international summer in June.

Many in the ECB believe Justin Langer is the best candidate for the job of coach of the Test team. He'd almost certainly need to be convinced by a significantly higher remuneration than Chris Silverwood's rumoured £500,000 before he was fired as coach after the Ashes.

North is familiar with Langer, having played with him for Western Australia. During his tenure at the state, he was also mentored by the former opener. It implies that his appointment may make enticing Langer to join England a little simpler.

North's case for the director of cricket position is bolstered by his extensive understanding of the English game, having spent a decade playing for Durham, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, and Glamorgan in county cricket.

The 42-year-old is also the only candidate who presently holds the position of director of cricket, having taken over at Durham in 2018.

Three high-profile names have already ruled themselves out of contention: former England captain and Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart, former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, and England's analyst Nathan Leamon.

Smith, who was unpopular with England's players during his stint as head selector, is another good prospect with a smart cricketing mind.

Key, who has 15 Test appearances for England, is a popular candidate, and his international experience is a benefit.

Regardless of who gets the appointment, there will be major issues to make, including Joe Root's position as Test captain, whether to reinstall the function of national selector that Giles eliminated last year, and a reform of the county game.