Hampshire have ended their three-month search for a new coach by recruiting former Durham captain Dale Benkenstein.
For the last four months, Benkenstein has been working as a batting consultant for the Sunfoil Dolphins, who Hampshire’s new overseas signing, Kyle Abbott, helped win South Africa’s domestic T20 tournament, the Ram Slam Challenge, last weekend.
The 39 year-old’s move to the Ageas Bowl means he will also be reunited with former teammates Ruel Brathwaite and Will Smith, who replaced Benkenstein as Durham’s captain in 2009.
Benkenstein played for Durham from 2005 until last May, when a shoulder operation effectively ended his career at the Riverside.
He captained Durham to their first major trophy when Shane Warne’s Hampshire were beaten at Lord’s in the 2007 Friends Provident Trophy final, before leading the newest county to the first of their three Championship titles a year later.
Benkenstein had been lined up to replace Geoff Cook as Durham’s head coach.
But that all changed when Cook suffered his heart attack last year at around the time a family illness meant the Benkensteins had to move back to South Africa.
He had a year left on his contract, but Durham granted his request to leave.
A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2009, when he helped Durham retain their title under Smith, Benkenstein’s most prolific Championship season came in 2011, when he scored 1366 runs at 59.
Like Paul Collingwood, who joined the England set-up as assistant coach yesterday, Durham's all-time leading run scorer will be a huge loss for the county champions.
But coaching has been a long-term goal of his and Jon Lewis was appointed as Durham's first-team coach in December.
Benkenstein said: "I’m looking forward to what is going to be a new challenge for me.
"It’s a brilliant set up here, I’ve spoken to the players and coaches at the Club and I’m excited about what’s ahead.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in South-Africa during the winter and it’s made me look forward to coaching here at Hampshire with what is an exciting squad of players and hopefully we can have an excellent season.”
Director of Cricket, Giles White said: "We are delighted to have Dale on board. He comes with a wealth of experience and an excellent reputation as a leader. We are looking forward to his involvement."
Durham chief executive David Harker said: “Dale has been a tremendous servant of Durham CCC and is regarded very much as part of the Durham family, therefore, although sad to see him leave we recognise the importance of a move both to Dale and his family and wish him every success in his future career development”.
Durham all-rounder Scott Borthwick tweeted: "Very sad to see the legend dale Benkenstein leave the club! Helped me massive with my game! Wish him all the best in the future!!"