Australia appoint former England batsman Hick as talent coach

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia have appointed former England batsman Graeme Hick as high performance coach for their talent development programme, after employing the Zimbabwe-born 47-year-old as a consultant for the past four months.

Hick, who played 65 tests for England from 1991-2001 for a modest batting average of 31.32, would be based at Australia's national talent academy, the Brisbane-based Centre of Excellence, Cricket Australia said in a statement on Wednesday.

"His main role will be working with our development teams including Australia A, Under 19 players and those in our current pathway system," CA executive general manager of team performance Pat Howard said.

"He will also provide a dedicated batting resource to all state players and Australian players who come through the Centre of Excellence at any time during the year. He will work closely with the state coaches in this regard."

Now living on Australia's sun-splashed Gold Coast near Brisbane, Hick replaces one-test batsman Stuart Law, who departed in June to become head coach of Queensland state after Darren Lehmann left the role to coach the national team.

A formidable first-class batsman, Hick was widely regarded an unfulfilled talent at test level but continued to dominate county attacks well after retiring from international cricket.

After finally hanging up his gloves in 2008 at the age of 42, Hick had amassed 41,122 first class runs with 136 centuries.

Cricket Australia would also hold a "batting forum" next month in Sydney, bringing in former Australia cricketers and coaches to create a national batting programme that Hick would be charged with developing and implementing, Howard said.

Australia's brittle test batting lineup, magnified by dismal collapses in recent series losses against England and India, have raised alarm bells Down Under, where pundits have blamed everything from Twenty20 cricket to the country's talent system for failing to produce players capable of grafting long innings.

Australia host England in the second of back-to-back Ashes series starting in November, having lost the first away 3-0.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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