Durham have confirmed Geoff Cook will be back at the head of a potentially revamped coaching structure next season, writes STUART RAYNER.
The head coach suffered a heart attack midway through the 2013 campaign. He returned before the end of the season to assist his short-term replacement Jon Lewis.
After Durham won the County Championship in September, Cook admitted: “It’s a good time to think about things,” and said he would reassess his future after speaking to his family. He did add, however: “If I can keep it going for another couple of years, fantastic.”
It now seems that will be the case, although Cook’s workload might be reduced next term. His heart attack pre-empted discussions about tweaking the coaching structure to give others more responsibility for Twenty20 cricket.
“Geoff is very well I’m delighted to say,” commented chairman Clive Leach. “He will remain as the head man but that’s not to say we will not take the opportunity to look at how it falls and what lies behind Geoff.
“I think we would have anyway, but what’s happened has given us the chance to look at it.”
Second team coach Lewis excelled as Cook’s stand-in, and could not be blamed for wanting more responsibility under the new structure.
Players Paul Collingwood and Dale Benkenstein are embarking on the first stage of their coaching careers this winter, ahead of likely retirements next summer.
Four-day captain Collingwood has taken a position with Scotland, while limited-overs skipper Benkenstein is working as Natal’s batting consultant. Their playing contracts are unlikely to be renewed when they expire at the end of next season.
Sources in the West Indies have suggested former bowler Ottis Gibson is being lined up to be Durham’s next head coach, but Leach commented: “If that’s the case that’s happened behind my back. If somebody comes to me tomorrow about it, I will look at it.
“But I can honestly say not a word about it has been breathed to me.”
Gibson took a club record 80 First-Class wickets in his last season with the club before leaving to become England’s bowling coach. His family are still based in the North East.
In 2010 he was appointed West Indies coach. The West Indies, who appointed Richard Pybus as director of cricket last month, are in India for a Test series which starts tomorrow. They travel to New Zealand for a series which ends on January 15.