Captain reveals his Twenty20 blueprint
Dale Benkenstein has hit out at the complacent approach of Durham’s batsmen as the Dynamos look to salvage their Twenty20 Cup campaign against Yorkshire tonight.
Durham have already suffered three defeats in the competition, despite beating reigning champions Leicestershire Foxes last week and need to win all three of their remaining fixtures to reach the knock-out stage for the first time in the tournament’s five-year history.
With a team he feels should be ideally suited to the needs of Twenty20 cricket, Benkenstein revealed he has been extremely frustrated by recent results and performances, which included back-to-back defeats at the hands of Lancashire and Yorkshire over the weekend.
But the South African is determined to prove that his side have the ability and the strategy to succeed in this form of cricket after pointing to the batsmen’s inability to play spin bowling as their only major weakness.
“I quite enjoy captaining in a Twenty20 game because it is so fast moving, but it has been frustrating for me this time,” said Benkenstein, confident Durham can qualify for the semi-finals. “I hate losing anyway, but I just feel we should have done a lot better than we have done.
“I think there are some people here who believe there is more luck and chance involved than there is. The best sides have shown that you can control things as you can in any other form of cricket. We have to realise that.
“It’s no good coming in to bat and thinking, ‘It doesn’t really matter what I do because the guy after me will see us through’. People have to go out there thinking they are going to win the game on their own for the team, which is what happened with Phil Mustard and Will Smith against Leicestershire.
“On paper we have a side which is as strong as any out there, but we haven’t played well enough. We shouldn’t be scared of anyone, but we have three games still to play and, if we win all three, we will be in the semi-finals.
“We’ve been in contention in every game, but we just haven’t played the spinners very well. We can’t seem to score runs and keep wickets, it has been our downfall in the defeats to Lancashire and Yorkshire and that is something we’ve worked very hard on.”
The loss of opener Michael Di Venuto with a badly dislocated finger is a major blow to Durham’s Twenty20 line-up, as well as their one-day and championship side.
But Benkenstein, who expects to see the Tasmanian return before the final of the Friends Provident Trophy on August 18, is hoping one of Durham’s talented youngsters can fill the void.
“Michael has dislocated his finger quite badly,” said Benkenstein, who will also have to do without Scott Styris tonight, as he is struggling with a calf strain. “He has already had two operations and is going to be out for between four and six weeks. We hope it’s four, it just depends on how quickly he heals, but there is nothing we can do about it.
“We just hope he comes back quickly and he should be available for the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord’s. That’s seven weeks away and, although he won’t have played much cricket before that game, he has played enough in his career to come straight back in. It’s a massive blow to the team because Michael has had such a great season, but it’s an opportunity for someone else.”
Benkenstein continued: “I think a situation like this highlights the importance of being mentally prepared to play at any time. There are a lot of young players, Will Gidman, Kyle Coetzer, Gary Scott, Mark Stoneham and Ben Harmison who have been playing in the seconds and they might not have believed they were going to get a chance in the first team. It can be frustrating when you want to make that step up to the next level, but somebody is going to have to come into the side and it is the person who has been scoring runs and who is mentally switched on who will get the chance. ”
Fans travelling to the Riverside to watch tonight’s clash with Yorkshire have been advised to use public transport or arrive at the ground earlier than usual as several car parks around the stadium are out of use because of the heavy rain over the weekend.
DURHAM (from): Phil Mustard (wkt), Kyle Coetzer, Dale Benkenstein (capt), Gordon Muchall, Ben Harmison, Will Smith, Garry Park, Gareth Breese, Ottis Gibson, Paul Wiseman, Neil Killeen, Stephen Harmison, Graham Onions.