Sussex 214 & 15-2 Durham 301 (Durham lead by 72 runs): Benkenstein and Smith give Sussex a headache

In mid-afternoon yesterday Durham lost their sixth wicket with the score on 235. There was immediately some speculation about whether they had compiled one of the lowest totals of all time to include a double-century partnership, a discussion which gathered momentum at 267 for 9.

This was delightful evidence of the game's perennial ability to provide statistical gems. The stand which led to it was delightful too, containing as it did two thoroughly pleasing innings.

Both Dale Benkenstein and Will Smith scored their first hundreds of the season. If Benkenstein's was the more comfortable and predictable, Smith's was the more important, coming as it did in his first championship match since last July.

They came together with last year's runners-up in a spot of bother at 11 for 4 against the champions. They effected a significant recovery which allowed an important lead, the sunshine having removed the demons from the moist pitch of the previous morning.

It was not quite chanceless and Durham would have been right in it had Carl Hopkinson not spilled a straightforward offering at first slip off Corey Collymore when Smith was but five.

Smith was no doubt helped by the presence of his captain, Benkenstein who is a commanding figure, utterly instrumental in Durham becoming a force in the land. The meagre nine fours contained in his innings did not reflect his assertiveness.

Smith is probably drinking in the last chance saloon. Dropped mid-season in 2007, this was his first championship hundred for Durham, his fourth in all.

On this evidence Sussex may struggle to retain their title. Their slip catching was aberrant throughout and there were signs that Mushtaq Ahmed, who took his 1,400th first-class wicket, is not in the best of order. Having conceded a deficit of 87, they were 15 for 2 by the close, with Stephen Harmison bowling like the wind again.

Harmison had already helped Durham extend the lead, sharing a lively last-wicket stand of 34 with his brother, Ben, that must have irritated Sussex as much as it did those fond of numerical nuggets. For the record, Benkenstein and Smith added 205, the rest contributed 96.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen