England to lose coach Hills to Australia during Ashes

Melbourne: England batting coach Dene Hills will return home to join the Australian coaching group as an analyst during the Ashes in a coup for the hosts.

“We are just discussing with England the exact starting date,” a team spokesman said. “‘Analyst’ is the official title ... He’s signed a contract and he wants to come home.”

Hills was appointed by England in Aug. 2008 and helped the team plot Australia’s downfall in last year’s Ashes campaign.

He is unable to join the Australian team until after the second test in Adelaide in December, England media reports said.

The 40-year-old Hills, widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest batsmen to never break into the national side, spent 10 seasons as mainly a top-order batsman for Tasmania from 1991-2001 before taking coaching roles with the state and national teams.

His appointment echoes the return of fellow Australian Troy Cooley, who after helping coach England’s bowlers during their Ashes win in 2005, returned home to help Australia rout their arch-rivals 5-0 in the 2006-07 series.

England have since recruited Australian David Saker as their fast bowling coach and brought in former Australia coach John Buchanan as a consultant to help them win the Ashes away for the first time since 1986/87. The Ashes start in Brisbane on Nov. 25.

Bureau Report