Mark Nicholas emerges as latest shock contender to become England cricket chief

Former Hampshire captain and broadcaster Mark Nicholas has reportedly applied to become England 's new managing director.

The role was previously held by Ashley Giles, who was one of three casualties in the wake of England's humiliating defeat in the Ashes. Along with Giles, head coach Chris Silverwood and assistant coach Graham Thorpe were also axed.

Sir Andrew Strauss, who has been filling in as interim managing director, has been tasked with finding Giles' replacement and the vacancy is expected to be filled next month. Several names have already been linked with the role, while other potential contenders have pulled out of the running.

Now, the Telegraph report that Nicholas is a 'surprise candidate' for the job having thrown his name into the hat. Following his retirement as a player in 1995, Nicholas became a respected broadcaster but has also co-founded cricket charity Chance to Shine and is currently chairman of Hundred side Southern Brave.

Nicholas is the latest surprising name to be linked with the England managing director role, with Sky Sports commentator Rob Key also in the running. Key confirmed his interest last week, saying: "There's a lot of speculation around, there's a lot of jobs up for grabs in English cricket.

"A fair few people have been asked, a fair few people are going for these jobs." England's former national selector Ed Smith is also thought to be in contention.

However, former Australia international Marcus North, who is currently Durham's director of cricket, is said to be the current frontrunner. England legend and Surrey chief Alec Stewart withdrew from contention due to family reasons, while England's lead performance analyst in white ball cricket, Nathan Leamon, and former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson are also not interested in the role.

"We are making progress with it and we're obviously very conscious there's a ticking clock, both in terms of appointing a director of cricket and then of course the coach – or potentially coaches – on the back of that," Strauss said of the search earlier this month.

"The ambition is certainly to have the Test coach in place by that first Test of the summer. In recruitment there are all sorts of moving pieces, including notice periods and I don't think we can categorically say that, but it's the ambition."

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