Durham’s Dale Benkenstein delighted to become county’s all-time top scorer

STAR MAN ... Dale Benkenstein has broken Durham's run-scoring record.
STAR MAN ... Dale Benkenstein has broken Durham's run-scoring record.
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RECORD-BREAKER Dale Benkenstein was delighted to become Durham’s highest-ever run scorer yesterday.

But the veteran ace was even happier he did so on the way to a “massive” victory for his side against title rivals Lancashire at Liverpool.

“It was quite nice to do it in this kind of game because the focus is on just winning the match,” he said.

“I was aware of the record because there were text messages coming from some of the fans.

“But I didn’t realise until after the match that I had passed it.

“It’s a special thing for me. Durham’s been an amazing part of my career.”

Yesterday’s unbeaten 60 saw the South African pass Jon Lewis’s record of 7,854 first-class runs for the county, while he also passed 1,000 runs for the season.

More importantly, it helped Geoff Cook’s side to a five-wicket victory over their nearest rivals and puts them 23 points clear at the top of Division One.

And Benkenstein admitted the result, although not as easy as it looked, was a huge one for Durham.

“There were a lot of factors coming into the game which could make it very interesting,” he said.

“To win by five wickets makes it look like it was pretty easy, but those people watching know it was on a knife-edge most of the way through the whole game, so it was a massive win for us,” he said.

“It wasn’t ideal to lose those three wickets on Tuesday night, but if you want to win a game against a side that should be almost equal to you then it’s going to be tough.

“We have been batting well all the way down the order, so we were confident we had the batting to do it – it was just a case of doing it under pressure.”

Callum Thorp’s first day 6-20 helped put Durham in the box seat as Lancs made just 84 in their opening innings.

However, neither side was ever in total command on a seamer-friendly pitch which saw just three batsman make a half-century – Benkenstein, who made 83 in his first innings, managing the feat twice.

Lancashire put up a fight in their second innings posting a total of 282, and Durham looked to have their work cut out when they lost three early wickets in their reply, and resumed on day three needing 154 to secure victory.

England all-rounder Paul Collingwood contributed a valuable 45, before Benkenstein and Ian Blackwell (26 not out) saw them home.