Benkenstein saves Durham
Durham 318-7 v Sussex
Thursday 07 May 2009
The Durham batsman Dale Benkenstein is no journeyman, his priceless century was eloquent proof of that yesterday when he pulled the reigning county champions back from the brink of disaster.
But "journeyman" is the label Benkenstein and his Durham team-mates are in danger of being given following the crazy schedule that has been organised for them during these early stages of their title defence.
On 27 April they had hauled themselves down to Taunton, returning home at 2am on 2 May with a second successive draw to their name; two days ago they flew to Gatwick from Newcastle, thence to Hove for the start of this match; on 9 May they are off to Bristol, heading back to Hove two days later for another one-dayer.
Once that match is over they head up to Leeds on 12 May, where they tackle Yorkshire the following day and 24 hours later they descend on London and a one-day game at The Oval, heading back to Riverside at the end of the game against Surrey.
It sounds exhausting, but Benkenstein, one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year for 2008, is clearly up for the long haul, and his occupation of the crease yesterday was almost as valuable as his runs. He was an immovable object for more than four and three quarter hours as he repeated his feat of last season, when he also scored a century on this ground – his only three-figure innings of the 2008 championship.
He had come into this match on the back of a very big hundred against Somerset and was in form, but he was not without luck, having been dropped on 19 by Ollie Rayner at second slip off the bowling of Robin Martin-Jenkins.
Benkenstein, who was out shortly before the close, caught in the deep to give Damien Wright his third wicket of the innings and the 300th of his first class career. Benkenstein received useful support from the fast bowler Liam Plunkett, who could reasonably have been expected to cause some damage with the ball, but yesterday posed problems with the bat by becoming Durham's second highest scorer of the day and passing 50 for only the seventh time in his career.
Their 148-run seventh-wicket stand realised three vital batting bonus points, but more importantly had dragged Durham back into a game that they had looked out of reach after losing their first five wickets with barely 100 runs on the board.
Only Gordon Muchall, who chipped in with 24 in a fourth-wicket partnership of 60 and then the wicketkeeper Phil Mustard, who contributed 32 to a sixth-wicket stand of 58, had provided the South African with any kind of top order support.
The rest of the batting was patchy and the Sussex attack benefited, with Martin-Jenkins producing the odd unplayable delivery, weighing in with two wickets.
Angel Di Maria reveals wish to return to Argentina - but don't worry Manchester United fans...
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Husain Abdullah penalised after celebrating a touchdown with a Muslim prayer - causing mass outrage among fans
Robin van Persie reveals Louis van Gaal wants Manchester United to 'be more Dutch and pull on the same rope'
Manchester United risk Uefa row over plan to play lucrative midweek friendlies
- 1 Sainsbury's '50p challenge' poster telling staff to encourage customers to spend more placed in shop window instead of staff room
- 2 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
- 4 Yes, the iPhone 6 is a miracle, but it's Apple's tax affairs that deserve a double take
- 5 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month