Former Australian vice-captain David Hookes has been named as Victoria's new cricket coach at a press conference in Melbourne today.
Hookes, 46, has been appointed to a two-year contract and assumes the reins as the Bushrangers' new mentor from outgoing coach Mick O'Sullivan in the wake of a troubled season for Victorian cricket.
Hookes was a late entrant into a race that had seen Jamie Siddons and Matthew Drain emerge as the favourites to assume the position but won the support of officials during a series of talks over recent weeks.
"It's a great feeling to be involved again at first-class level," said Hookes.
"I'm looking forward to working with the players in the squad to ensure that the Bushrangers are again a successful team.
"I've been in cricket changerooms for (a total of) ten minutes since I retired ten years ago, and that was at the invitation of Greg Chappell.
"(But) I felt pretty happy to put my hat in the ring ... to find out where I sat in the marketplace, in cricketing terms," he added of a decision that was also influenced by encouragement from Victorian Cricket Association (VCA) operations manager, Shaun Graf.
Hookes was one of Australian interstate cricket's most outstanding players, amassing 10,439 runs in 136 first-class matches for South Australia with a style of batting that was often marked by its aggression. He was a long-time captain of the state, held the record for being the most prolific run scorer in Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup history, and played 23 Tests and 39 one-day internationals in a career with Australia that also included a stint as then captain Allan Border's deputy in the early 1980s.
He inherits his new job at a crucial time for cricket in Victoria, and flagged a desire today to see the team adopt a far more attacking and ambitious philosophy.
The Bushrangers endured a disastrous 2001-02, losing then coach John Scholes to a shock resignation on the eve of their opening match of the season and ultimately stumbling into fifth place on each of the two domestic competition tables.
The retirement of captain Paul Reiffel during the season exacerbated the woes, while the omission from the Bushrangers' senior team of Test off spinner Colin Miller added to a spectre of political in-fighting that has appeared to plague Victorian teams for much of the last decade.
Against the background of widespread media criticism from within Victoria, the state's selection panel was also restructured in the wake of the performance, with elections forcing the removal of long-time members Graf and Neil Buszard.
The Bushrangers reached successive first-class finals in each of the preceding two seasons but have been unable in recent years to arrest a trend that has seen the state fail to win a title at that level since 1990-91.
Hookes has no formal coaching experience, but has maintained an association with cricket in a role as a media commentator throughout the ten years that have followed his retirement.
In a surprise move that shares similarities with South Australia's decision to allow Greg Chappell to actively maintain his business interests, the VCA will permit Hookes the chance to pursue his burgeoning media career alongside his coaching commitments.