Benkenstein: I’m not retired yet

Dale Benkenstein in action for Durham against Hampshire. Picture: Neil Marshall

Dale Benkenstein in action for Durham against Hampshire. Picture: Neil Marshall

Chris Stone

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Dale Benkenstein has not ruled out a playing return after joining the Hampshire coaching set-up.

The 39-year-old former South Africa international played five Championship games for Durham and three YB40 games last term and insists he has not officially retired from the game just yet.

Benkenstein will take over as first-team coach this season at the Ageas Bowl.

That will allow Giles White to concentrate on his role as director of cricket – a position which will allow him to oversee the whole of the club’s cricketing operation, including development and recruitment, rather than simply first-team affairs.

But Benkenstein has revealed his playing days are not over just yet and he will be happy to pick up the bat if the situation requires some of the quality and experience that has seen him accumulate more than 15,000 first-class runs around the world.

He said: ‘I’ve had a few messages congratulating me on my playing career but I haven’t officially retired.

‘Playing is definitely secondary but I might play in one format or if there is an injury crisis.’

The first priority for Benkenstein is to get Hampshire into a position to challenge for promotion back to the top flight of the County Championship.

Relegated to division two in 2011, they have been unable to mount anything like a concerted effort in the four-day game since, with wins few and far between – especially on home turf.

But Hampshire continue to stay among the leading clubs in limited-overs cricket – with a fine record in both t20 and 40-over competitions in recent seasons.

Benkenstein refused to set any goals but he knows there is room for improvement in all formats.

‘Hampshire have a successful team with room to improve,’ he said.

‘It’s a first division club. A lot of work has to be done to get back in the first division and stay there.

‘But in one-day cricket they’ve been incredibly successful and we will be looking to continue that as well.

‘Every coach wants to win something and we will start the season wanting to win everything.

‘As the season goes on, we will know what area we are stronger in but it’s very dangerous to only focus on one format.

‘The squad is good enough to compete for everything and that’s what I would like to do.’

It remains to be seen exactly how the coaching structure will be put in place and there could yet be further changes between now and the start of the season.

But Benkenstein insists it will be an easy transition to make.

He said: ‘I’ve always got on with the guys at Hampshire, which is what makes the move fairly easy.

‘It’s also important to have a good backroom team and we have that with Giles, Craig White and Tony Middleton.

‘England is my cricket home and South Africa is my home but my allegiance will be Hampshire.’

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