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Yardy returns to his beloved Sussex as batting coach

Michael Yardy leaves the field for the final time in first-class cricket Getty Images

Michael Yardy, who ended a long professional career in 2015 after an eight-year battle with mental illness, has rejoined Sussex as the club's first full-time batting coach.

Yardy has been credited with improvements among Sussex's young batsmen and has encouraged hopes that he can help reinvigorate a production line of players that has been unproductive in recent years.

As one of the most popular figures on the county circuit, even as his illness began to bite, his return with fresh ambitions is bound to be met with pleasure.

Yardy, who spent 16 years as a player at Sussex after coming through the academy, is currently in the final year of a sports psychology degree at Chichester University and has previous coaching experience at Hurstpierpoint College and, last season, with Sussex's Under-17 side.

He said: "Having spent the whole of my playing career at Sussex it was always going to be exciting to come back and help this talented team push forward. The time away has allowed me to focus on other areas which I believe will allow me to offer something different to what is already a strong coaching staff."

Yardy won 42 caps for England and was part of the triumphant team at the World Twenty20 in 2010, only for his England career to end abruptly when he left the World Cup squad in Colombo the following year with depression. He fought back to prove himself one of the most enduring figures in Sussex's history.

He told in his autobiography - The Hard Yards: Highs and Lows of a Life in Cricket - how he felt like "zombie" in practice sessions and how, in a club season in Australia in 2008, his obsessive security checks involved "ramming chairs and tables against bolted doors" to keep out potential intruders.

Keith Greenfield, Sussex's director of cricket, said: "Since Michael returned to the club at the start of last summer with our Under-17s it has been clear the impact he has had on our young batsmen. At the start of the winter, he worked with our batsmen on the professional staff on a part-time basis and again it has been clear that his skills are making a significant difference to our players.

"To have him now with us full-time in our environment will be fantastic for all of us, and the psychology degree that Michael has studied in his time away from the club is also hugely important when dealing with elite players who need to deliver high quality skill and decision making under extreme pressure."

Sussex appointed Murray Goodwin as their first dedicated batting coach on a short-term basis last season but the former Zimbabwe international left Hove early in the summer to return to Australia.