• Two new head coaches for Central Stags

Two new head coaches for Central Stags

Double national champions the Central Stags will have two new Head Coaches next season.

Both are familiar faces with track records of domestic success.

CDCA staffer Glenn Pocknall has been named as the team’s Head Coach for the 2023/24 one-day Ford Trophy and first-class Plunket Shield defences, while former Central Stags, Leicestershire and Worcestershire representative and current Northamptonshire batting coach Ben Smith has been appointed as the team’s Dream11 Super Smash Head Coach, with Pocknall named as Assistant Coach for the T20 campaign.

Pocknall served as interim Assistant Coach in both the one-day and first-class competitions at the back end of last season, stepping in to assist caretaker coach Aldin Smith after former Head Coach Rob Walter departed in February for his new job as South Africa men’s white-ball coach.

Pocknall had last year joined the wider Central Districts coaching staff as Pathway and Performance Coach from Cricket Wellington — where he had coached the Wellington Firebirds to Domestic championship wins in all three formats, winning The Ford Trophy (2019), the Plunket Shield (2020) and Dream11 Super Smash (2020 and 2021) with the Wellingtonians.

Most recently, Pocknall has been on a sabbatical as an assistant coach (bowling lead) of the giant-killing Scotland men’s team that has been making history at this month's ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.

Along with fellow Kiwi-based coaching staff, he has helped Scotland to achieve historic victories over full ICC members Ireland, the West Indies and Zimbabwe - setting up a showdown tonight with The Netherlands for the last available spot at the World Cup, and upending all the pre-tournament predictions.

The highly regarded Pocknall also filled in as the Black Caps' Head Coach on the team’s 2021 T20 tour of Bangladesh.

"I'm really looking forward to stepping into this new role with the Stags to add my flavour to a great system of developing people and players," he said from Zimbabwe.

"It’s been the most thorough appointment process I’ve been involved in, highlighting the passion and commitment that the CD Association has to move the game forward within the region.

"Having had a taste now of the unique challenges that are faced at Central Districts, I can’t wait to get to work with the staff and players to ensure that not only is the Stags' group progressing, but also the wider CD family through the Districts."

Ben Smith has enjoyed a long connection with Central Districts since first arriving in the region as an overseas player in the 2000/01 season.

As a player he accrued immense experience across both the New Zealand and English County Championship landscapes. He played 399 List A one-day and 334 first-class matches, including 43 centuries, in his 20-year career, as well as 51 matches for Worcestershire in the UK’s T20 Blast.

Smith later filled coaching roles for both his former counties, as well as the England Lions and two previous coaching stints with the Central Stags. The first of his Stags appointments was in 2016/17 as a Specialist Coach supporting then-Head Coach Heinrich Malan for the T20 and Ford Trophy competitions.

When Malan was seconded to coach NZC’s New Zealand A team for two months in 2018, Smith returned to once again join forces with the Stags as interim Head Coach, overseeing the first two rounds of the 2018/19 Plunket Shield and taking them through the entirety of that’s summer's Ford Trophy campaign.

In 2017 Smith had also joined Cricket Ireland to work closely with the Irish squad following the country’s elevation to ICC Full Member status, before being appointed to his current role as Northamptonshire Batting Coach in 2021.

Smith said he was very much looking forward to returning to New Zealand in December and reconnecting with a number of familiar players — as well as meeting newer members of the squad.

"I'm really excited and looking forward to working closely with the team, in conjunction with Glenn, in the Dream11 Super Smash T20 competition,” he said.

"I’d like to thank CD Cricket for offering me this role. It's one that I see as an exciting challenge, and a brilliant opportunity to help enhance and build on the strong environment that's already in place with the Stags.

"I have very fond memories of my time both as a player and as a coach previously with the team, and I can't wait to get over to start working with this highly skilled group of players.

"We'll be striving for success and embracing this fast-paced, high energy and enjoyable format whilst having some fun along the way!"

Central Districts Chief Executive Lance Hamilton said the twin appointments would provide the right mix of stimulation and stability for a successful team as they look to back up a brilliant 2022/23 summer.

“With Glenn based here in Central Districts, he will formally step into his new role to start planning and preparing the squad on 1 August, while Ben will join us from the U.K. in December ahead of the Super Smash campaign.

“With the launch of our world-class new training facilities at Mitre 10 Sports Park, it’s a particularly exciting time to be stepping into these roles.

“We also know from experience that he have secured two outstanding individuals and coaches in these two roles, and I’m really delighted to be welcoming them both back to the Stags’ High Performance environment.”