Dale Benkenstein has become Durham’s record run-scorer in first-class cricket. He passed Jon Lewis’s total of 7,854 with the boundary which clinched the five-wicket win against Lancashire at Liverpool.
While Lewis scored his runs from 262 innings, this was 37-year-old Benkenstein’s 175th in a Durham career which began in 2005.
After underlining his skill by making 83 not out on the first day, when 20 wickets fell at the Aigburth ground, the South African was on 60 when Durham reached their victory target of 181. When he had made 44 he reached 1,000 first-class runs for the season, with only Marcus Trescothick having beaten him to the target.
Benkenstein said: “I was aware of the record because I kept getting texts from fans about it. It was quite nice to achieve it but in this game the focus was completely on winning.
“Durham has been an amazing part of my career because when you get to around 30 in South African cricket you are generally finished if you haven’t made it into the Test side. Durham gave me the chance to continue and I’ve always been grateful for that. I want to keep playing as long as I’m fit and contributing.
“I know what it’s like to be in form and out of form. Last season was a disappointment, but I did a bit of work and it’s been nice to have good weather. No matter what the pressure, my mindset doesn’t change. I wait for them to bowl a bad ball and I hit it, and you are always hoping for a bit of luck.
“There was pressure just coming here because we don’t know the ground and Lancashire have been doing well on it. It was a fascinating game and everyone watching knew it was on a knife-edge all the way through.”
Paul Collingwood, who set Durham on the way to victory with an innings of 45, paid tribute to Benkenstein, saying: “He has a very simple technique and likes to put the bowlers under pressure. He’s very, very solid and I can’t believe he hasn’t played Test cricket. He’s an all-round great man.”
Collingwood added: “I didn’t know how well I would fit back into the side. But I’ve been surprised how much I have enjoyed being on the bus with the boys and being out in the middle. I went through a tough period but I now feel as comfortable in the middle as I ever have.”
Benkenstein’s first-class record for Durham:
2005 – 1,236 runs at 58.85
2006 – 1,500 runs at 51.72
2007 – 1,278 runs at 55.56
2008 - 817 runs at 43.0
2009 – 1,168 runs at 48.66
2010 - 840 runs at 31.11
2011 – 1,016 runs at 78.15 (to June 30)