Proteas: Benkenstein 'is on the radar'

2017-11-02 16:38
Dale Benkenstein (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Proteas all-rounder and Dolphins captain Dale Benkenstein has been sounded out over the possibility of becoming Ottis Gibson's deputy as national coach.

Rumours first surfaced that Benkenstein, 43, was sought by the new coach as his closest assistant when Gibson revealed certain changes to the back-up staff at a media briefing in Johannesburg a few days ago - including the end of Charl Langeveldt's reign as fast bowling coach, with Gibson instead casting his own, expert eye over that area.

Current chief assistant, Adrian Birrell, is also reportedly "moving on", creating the gap for a right-hand person for the Barbadian Gibson.

SuperSport pundit and former Proteas left-arm spinner Paul Harris said on the Inside Edge chat show this week that he knew Benkenstein had been approached, although he would have to be prised out of an existing post at a leading private school.

The likelihood that Benkenstein will become a new face on the support staff may well cause certain ripples at Cricket South Africa where, with transformation concerns in mind, a not inconsiderable lobby are pushing for Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana to have a meaningful role with the Proteas.

Ahead of Gibson's recruitment out of the England camp, there had even been speculation that Toyana might get the senior post, filling the Russell Domingo void.

So should he not be a shoe-in for the assistant berth?

Harris came up with a not unreasonable different theory: "It might not be a bad idea if he (Toyana) sticks with the Lions for the time being and tries to bring in trophies for them.

"That's because assistants seldom go on to become the head coach; there is usually a feeling that 'new ideas' from outside are required (in those circumstances).

"So if Geoff does aspire to coaching the Proteas in the main role, he might actually be best served sticking at the Lions a bit longer."

Of course Domingo was a rare exception to the rule at the outset of his own tenure, assuming the head-coach mantle after serving as Gary Kirsten's "No 2".

Benkenstein, if he agrees to come on board, would be resuming a professional relationship, in a sense, with Gibson, as they were team-mates - the former was captain at the time - for a prosperous two-year period at county side Durham (2006 and 2007).

In that overlapping period (Benkenstein had a much longer, almost 10-year loyalty at Chester-le-Street from 2004 to 2013, scoring more than 9 000 first-class runs for them) Durham won their first major silverware, the Friends Provident Trophy, a year before going on to earn the County Championship title itself in 2008.

Harare-born Benkenstein then cut his senior coaching teeth with Hampshire, for two and a half years, including helping them earn promotion to Division One in 2014.

He left the county in mid-2016 citing family reasons.

On the same SuperSport programme, former SA captain Kepler Wessels said he fully supported Gibson taking the fast-bowling coaching mantle, on top of his overall charge.

"It is pretty common for the head coach to also head up the specific department he is best renowned for," said Wessels, adding that he would favour an approach to Nic Pothas, the former Gauteng and SA ODI wicketkeeper, as Proteas fielding coach.

Pothas is currently the interim coach of Sri Lanka.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  dale benkenstein  |  cricket


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