DURHAM have parted company with former skipper Dale Benkenstein.
The South African asked to be released from his contract at the Emirates ICG to take up a player-coach role at Hampshire.
Losing the experience of Benkenstein, the county’s all-time leading run scorer with 9,055 first-class runs, should not be underestimated despite him having been a bit-part player in last season’s County Championship title success.
The veteran star missed the majority of last term after undergoing a serious shoulder operation.
But in his time at Durham, Benkenstein became the first captain to lift major silverware for the county with the Friends Provident Trophy in 2007, and was skipper when they won the County Championship for the first time in 2008.
He has also helped to guide the careers of England stars Graham Onions, Ben Stokes, Scott Borthwick and former international wicketkeeper Phil Mustard.
Benkenstein would have loved to remained at Durham, but, with no opportunities to take up a coaching role at Chester-le-Street, he has made the move to Hampshire, who he will join in time for their pre-season tour to Barbados.
The 39-year-old has spent the English winter working as a batting coach for the South-African side Sunfoil Dolphins.
Speaking about the move, Benkenstein said: “I have enjoyed being part of the Durham story and the success we have achieved.
“I would like to express my thanks to Durham CCC for my release to pursue a coaching career.
“I’m looking forward to what is going to be a new challenge for me.
“It’s a brilliant set-up at Hampshire. I’ve spoken to the players and coaches at the club and I’m excited about what’s ahead.”
Durham have gone on record to express their sadness at losing the batsman’s services, with chief executive David Harker adding: “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.”