Durham duo are key – Stokes

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DURHAM ace Ben Stokes believes veteran duo Paul Collingwood and Dale Benkenstein hold the key to success, as the hosts chase their second County Championship win of the campaign, writes Gary Foster.

The men from the Emirates ICG resumed today on 119-4 with skipper Collingwood not out and Benkenstein undefeated on 40 – 10 runs shy of the 129 all out posted by Surrey in their innnings.

Stokes says that the pair can use their years in the game to help to put the home side in a position of strength in the four-day encounter.

“They’re (Collingwood and Benkenstein) the two most experienced guys in the team,” he said.

“Colly’s had a great career with England and been in a lot of situations where he’s had to stick in, and Benky’s in a class of his own.

“He’s been a brilliant performer for us. A lot of times when we’ve been down in the dumps he’s come in and performed.

“If there’s a time to do it, it’ll be now.”

Stokes believes that if Durham can post a big first innings total they can put the visitors on the rack.

“It’s tough to get in on the wicket here, so if we can get anywhere near a lead of 150, 200 that’s going to be massive,” he added.

Stokes and Chris Rushworth were the main wicket takers for the hosts, but in fairness Surrey failed to cope with the Durham attack as a whole.

Durham got the ball to swing around and Stokes with 4-40, and Rushworth 3-36 made the most of the conditions.

All-rounder Stokes admitted it was pleasing to be in the wickets, but was quick to praise the efforts of his fellow bowlers.

He said: “It was nice to get the ball in bowler-friendly conditions to start off with, and I think as a unit we bowled really well, and managed to get them out for a low total.”

Durham’s reply didn’t get off to the best of starts and despite a cameo of 23 from Keaton Jennings on his championship debut, soon found themselves on 58-4.

However, up stepped Collingwood and Benkenstein with a partnership of 61 runs put them back on the front foot.