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Durham benefit from Pollocks experience

In the list of Twenty20 winners over the last five years it will be top v bottom at Grace Road tonight.

But the influx of South Africans on both sides will make past experience irrelevant.

Leicestershire, champions in 2004 and 2006, lost at home to Lancashire on Wednesday and their record now reads 28 wins from 44 games, while Durham have nine wins from 35.

The hosts managed to get bowled out for 105 in 18.2 overs by Lancashire, and despite fielding six South Africans none had the impact that Shaun Pollock made on his Durham debut.

He began the win against Derbyshire with a maiden and ended it by keeping a cool head to score the winning runs, with his old pal Dale Benkenstein at the other end.

The Durham captain said: "He and I have been in that situation a few times and it was good to have him in the side. I thought he bowled OK but his standards are so high you expect so much of him.

"Albie Morkel was unlucky because he tried to finish the game off straightaway. Between the two of them they're going to win us a few games."

Perhaps having two carrottops in their side in Pollock and Paul Collingwood helped Durham see in the dark on Wednesday, but the England oneday captain will miss the rest of the group games and will be replaced tonight by Gordon Muchall or Ben Harmison.

Muchall's only first team appearance this season has been in the Friends Provident match away to Scotland, but he has a good Twenty20 record. With 567 runs at 29.84 over the last five year, he has the best average of any Durham batsman.

Benkenstein said: "When you're playing ten group games you've got room to ease into the competition and get your format right. Then if you finish strongly you can still get through. But the easy way is to start winning early and we did a lot of good things against Derbyshire. The bowlers thought on their feet.

"We'll miss Colly. He came to me in the eighth over on Wednesday and said I mustn't feel I had to bowl him and he ended up breaking the Durham record for best figures in a Twenty20 match.

"If it had been drier we probably would have used the spinners in the middle and if two left-handers had got in we would have had the two off spinners as an option.

That's where we are lucky - we're almost picking guys so if we need them, we have them.

"It's a very strong side and experienced as well. That's what really helps in this format. Everyone thinks it's a young player's game but there's more pressure and you have to have more composure in this form of the game."

Apart from their South Africans, Leicestershire also include Australian all-rounder Jim Allenby, the former Brandon professional, who is having an excellent season.

Durham move on to Trent Bridge for a 2.30 start tomorrow, when Nottinghamshire will be out to avenge their one-wicket defeat in the Friends Provident quarter-final at Riverside last week. Neil Killeen also joins the squad for the two games, having proved his fitness in the second team this week.

source - thisisthenortheast.co.uk
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