South African cricket May 12, 2004

Baptiste to leave KwaZulu Natal

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Graham Ford has denied having got offers to coach the Natal team © Standard Bank 2000

KwaZulu/Natal and Eldine Baptiste, their coach, today agreed to go their separate ways after six years.

After a week of negotiations, they came to the agreement that Baptiste, the former West Indies Test player, would leave the club. KwaZulu/Natal, who finished second in the SuperSport series table, expressed their gratitude for Baptiste's loyal service to them over the last six years.

Meanwhile, Graham Ford, the former South African coach, has denied receiving any offers to take over as coach of the team. When questioned on the issue, Ford said, "I have heard nothing, I haven't even had any discussions with Natal cricket. If there was an offer, I would have to consider how it would affect my business."

Ford was sacked as South Africa's coach in 2002 after their double loss to Australia at home and away. Ford returned to Durban to set up a successful coaching school, and was also helping out part-time at the KZN academy, and as a fitness adviser for the Natal team. Ford guided South Africa to seven series wins after taking over from Bob Woolmer in 1999.

Ford had a successful stint as the coach of Natal in the '90s, leading them to two four-day titles and a day-night trophy. The vacant coaching post has triggered a host of ex-Natal men playing for other provinces, as well as retired stars like Errol Stewart, showing interest in returning home to Durban.

One thing that is for certain, is that Dale Benkenstein will not be the captain next season after he was asked to stand down. Benkenstein, 29, has been in charge for eight years, and was happy to let someone else take over. "I've pretty much achieved everything I could have as captain and I think it's a good time for someone else to take over," he said. "This last season has been tough, but I had basically decided at the start of it that it was going to be my last as captain."