Durham insist split captaincy is positive move

Durham hope to solve their captaincy dilemma by retaining wicketkeeper Phil Mustard as their four-day skipper, while Dale Benkenstein will take over the one-day reins.

Mustard was surprisingly thrust into the captaincy in late May this year, replacing Will Smith, who led Durham to their second title in 2009 but was unable to regain his 2008 batting form.

As Durham continued to endure a disappointing season there was some doubt about whether Mustard would continue in the role.

At 36, Benkenstein was reluctant to take it on again. He stood down after leading the team for three years, culminating in their first County Championship title in 2008, but at 36 he remains highly committed to Durham and is happy to accept the one-day role.

He struggled to get through last season with a variety of injuries, but following a hernia operation three weeks ago he is confident of being ready for the 2011 campaign.

“I would like to play as much as possible,” he said. “I am just starting to get back into gym work and hope to be fully fit for the start of the season.

“If you are captain in all forms of the game it is hard to step down, but this way if I need to take time off I can do that.”

Head coach Geoff Cook said: “It’s not a compromise. The game is changing rapidly and captaincy has become a very hard task with a big turnover rate. By splitting the job we hope to get the best out of both the four-day and one-day teams.

“With the rewards for success becoming greater the demands also increase and the stress of the job becomes greater.

“Dale’s experience will give us a chance of being successful in one-day cricket it and will help Phil grow into the role. He now realises there is more to captaincy than he thought and he can look at it from a different angle.

“He has been a major match-winner in one-day cricket, but to combine that with captaincy is beyond expectations, so we are very pleased that Dale has agreed to take it on.”

Mustard rose to the four-day challenge last season with two centuries three years after his first two, but saw his form as a one-day opener suffer.

“I never expected the captaincy but I learnt a lot faster than I anticipated and I think I can become a good captain over time,” he said.

“I never saw myself as a leader. I just used to catch the ball and play a few shots without taking much notice of what Dale was doing as captain. Now I will learn from him in one-day and Twenty20 cricket.”

Since winning the Friends Provident Trophy in 2007, Durham’s one-day form has declined and they finished next to the bottom of their Clydesdale Bank 40 group last season. Their outlay on two Twenty20 specialists in Albie Morkel and Ross Taylor also failed to reap dividends.

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