Well, well. After fumbling along for so long with faults prevalent but the cosy set-up in denial about these, there is finally a shake-up within the England side. Michael Vaughan, who won more Tests than any other captain, has resigned; Paul Collingwood has seemingly been pushed from the one-day set-up.
There are two obvious candidates to replace them. Kevin Pietersen is well established as a star in both forms of the game for England. Captaincy could help rein in his impetuosity, which reared its ugly head when trying to launch Paul Harris for a six to bring up his century. During the last one-day international, when he was stand-in captain, his choice of bowlers seemed a little less formulaic than Collingwood's has been. He clearly has a fine cricketing brain and under-rated tactical acuman. Making your best player captain is, in many senses, the most logical step. However, he still has a worrying lack of captaincy experience - doubts exist over his ability to handle disparate characters within the side.
There may be calls for Andrew Strauss to be handed the job on the basis that he should have led England to Australia in 2006/07. But that is no sound reason. His current form is grim and he has scored hundreds only against New Zealand in the last two years. Add to this that he is not in the ODI side and it is clear England must look elsewhere, for all his captaincy credentials.
But where? The next England skipper should be Rob Key. He has led Kent with distinction for almost three seasons, winning the Twenty20 Cup last season. This year, they were one shot away from retaining the trophy; they will play Essex in the Friends Provident Trophy final; and they still have a very realistic chance of Champuionship glory. At 29, he has developed tremendous cricketing nous and commands respect. Key is a phlegmatic character, outwardly relaxed but alo fiercely determined. His status as an 'outsider' - he has not played for three and-a-half years - is surely a benefit, given the deep malaise England currently find themselves in. New ideas, which have clearly been very successful at Kent, could reinvigorate the side.
But what of Key the batsman? For a captain's authority is undermined if there are doubts over whether he merits his place in the side, as Vaughan is striking testament to. Key did reasonbly in his 15 Tests, but is a better player now, who knows how to get the best out of himself - and has also lost plenty of weight. Though not outstanding, he is having another good season, averaging 51 in first-class cricket (it was 56 last season), including 178* for Kent against New Zealand. Given the batting woes of the top three, he fully merits a recall even if his captaincy skills are ignored. Whilst it is true he was out-of-his-depth in his brief ODI career to date, his limited-overs game has developed wonderfully of late, as he has learned the art of pacing innings - and even developed a paddle over fine-leg. So he merits a place in all three forms of the game on current form. Add in his know-how and captaincy pedigree and Rob Key stands out as England's best choice.