Dene Fleetwood Hills
August 27, 1970, Wynyard, Tasmania
Left hand Bat
Dene Hills batted at the top of the Tasmania line-up for most of his career, which began in 1991-92 and ended when he was dropped in 2001-02. The start and finish were not impressive - he scored 12 and 2 in his Sheffield Shield debut and 5 and 3 in his final appearance - but in the decade between those matches Hills established himself as one of the state's finest run-makers.
Hills had some success in the one-day arena, but he was more at home in the longer game, where he could accrue runs at his own pace, usually in partnership with Jamie Cox. A considered left-hander who was strong on the off side, Hills' strong defence laid the platform for his 21 first-class centuries. A hundred came in his opening season with 106 against Queensland and in the following campaign he reached three figures four times, averaging 50.16 from 11 matches. In 1993-94 he was Tasmania's leading run-scorer, compiling 1068 at 48.54, and his success boosted the state, which reached its maiden Sheffield Shield final.
Hills scored the first of three double-centuries at Bellerive Oval against a Queensland attack including Rackemann, Kasprowicz and McDermott in 1995-96, and he set up another final berth two seasons later with back-to-back efforts of 205 against Victoria and 265 against South Australia. The big scores helped earn a career-high season haul of 1220 runs, but the closest Hills came to winning international recognition was with the Australia A squad that toured Scotland and Ireland in 1998. He struck 118 in the opening match against Scotland, who he represented in a game against Wiltshire in 2000.
In his final two first-class campaigns, Hills' season average dipped below 25 for the first time and he was dropped after four fixtures in 2000-01. He was later appointed Tasmania's assistant coach and was promoted to the Centre of Excellence - he attended the Academy in 1989-90, when he was in the same intake as Michael Slater, Michael Bevan and Brendon Julian. Hills' senior coaching duties in Brisbane also involve stints as an assistant with the national teams. He was poached by England in August 2008 and named as their head batting coach.
Jono Russell August 2008
Batting & Fielding