Coach allows Hampshire to lead themselves

James Vince has grown into his role as captain PictureL Dave Vokes/LMI Photography

James Vince has grown into his role as captain PictureL Dave Vokes/LMI Photography

Chris Stone

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For some coaches looking to stamp their authority at a new county, the idea of relinquishing some of the decision-making might be viewed as a sign of weakness.

But in Dale Benkenstein’s illustrious playing career, he has played under the dictators and believes it hampers a team when the heat of battle is at its most intense.

After all, when the person who makes all the decisions is sat up on the balcony, players can buckle when the spotlight is on them in those crucial final overs.

Hampshire, however, should not be left wanting in that respect if their challenge for glory at the Natwest T20 Blast Finals Day comes down to the players keeping their cool when it matters.

Benkenstein has made sure his troops are well prepared for the constantly changing landscape of a game of t20, especially in the cauldron of finals day.

He explained: ‘What is really good and what I like to see is more input from the senior players to sort things out when things go wrong.

‘It’s better than having a dictator telling them what to do. It can limit people.

‘At the beginning, it was just me talking.

‘But now we have Michael Carberry, Jimmy Adams and James Vince is starting to go that way more and more as he grows into the captaincy.

‘Looking back at the best teams I have played in, it has been the team that sorts themselves out.

‘But that also has to come from the coach because you encourage it and allow them to do it.

‘I’ve also played under coaches that just want to have total control and you lose some of that individuality.

‘You’ll find the team doesn’t work as a unit quite so well – they just wait to be told what to do.

‘You can’t do it for them all the time.’

The South African has impressed this season with his leadership.

Benkenstein has not been afraid to criticise the players when he felt it was necessary, but insists he has yet to lose his temper in the dressing room.

‘It’s a very good team and you see some of the things they do and you think “they are so much better than that”,’ said Benkenstein.

‘I have had to learn to take the good with the bad, rather than becoming too emotional with it.

‘It’s not really my style to get angry.

‘I know what it’s like as a player when you haven’t played well.

‘There are enough experienced heads to understand when they have played poorly.

‘I don’t hide away from it. We address it but I’m not a shouter and a screamer.

‘I have a relaxed philosophy on cricket. I think there is enough pressure on the guys out there and they don’t need to be told how to live their life.

‘You have to assess things as you go along but I don’t think there is one way of coaching a team. It’s about finding the way to get the best from that group.’

One thing that has stood out from this Hampshire side, is their ability to perform when it really matters.

The coach said: ‘The good thing about them is that they bounce back quite quickly when they haven’t played well.

‘They have proved that they stand up and perform on the big occasions so I’m expecting them to do the same again.

‘I have played in teams who do the complete opposite but our players seem to thrive on that extra pressure.’

n A much-changed Hampshire side lost by six wickets to Yorkshire in their final Royal London One-Day Cup encounter at the Ageas Bowl yesterday.

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