New overseas signing Kyle Abbott has applauded Hampshire’s choice of fellow South African Dale Benkenstein as first team coach.

“It is a fantastic appointment,” enthused Abbott, pictured, who has worked under Benkenstein in the successful Sunfoil Dolphins franchise in Durban this winter.

“His knowledge of the game, his passion for it and his overall experience is awesome and he will be good for Hampshire, I’m certain of that.”

Benkenstein joined Hampshire last month after quitting Durham following the Riversiders’ decision to appoint Jon Lewis as county coach.

He made more than 9,000 runs for Durham and was made county captain ahead of the 2006 season before leading the club to Friends Provident Trophy glory and a maiden LV= County Championship title in consecutive seasons. Benkenstein, 39, who is with the Hampshire squad for the pre-season trip to Barbados, has spent the past winter as ‘run scoring coach’ at Dolphins, where he helped guide the Natal side to the domestic Ram Slam twenty20 title and a place in next autumn’s Champions League.

Abbott has no doubt that Durham’s loss is very much Hampshire’s gain.

“I’ve known him for quite a while now and this has been the first season I’ve worked with him in a player/coach relationship, which has been good.

“He loves his cricket and it was a shame he didn’t get more of an opportunity to extend his international career beyond 23 ODIs,” he said.

Benkenstein was a teammate of Abbott’s when the 26-year old made his Natal debut in the 2009/10 season.

“He came back from Durham for that winter and it was no coincidence that we reached the final that year,” he recalled.

“He brings a lot of energy and passion with him on to the field and into his coaching methods.”

Abbott admitted that it was “a bit of a surprise” when he found out Dale Benkenstein would be linking up with him at the Ageas Bowl this summer.

“He loves his running and it was while we were out street running in Port Elizabeth together that the situation happened to crop up.

“He asked me what my own 2014 plans were and I told him I’d just signed for Hampshire and he said he’d see me there!

“It came as a bit of a shock (to me) as I thought he’d never leave Durham, but I was quite excited to find out Dale would also be there.”