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September 28, 2008
Helping Durham clinch their maiden County Championship title is the "proudest achievement" of his career, says Geoff Cook, the head coach. Durham's victory against Kent at Canterbury took them to their first title 16 years after they became a first-class team, and Cook has been with the county throughout.
"I think this is probably my proudest achievement," he said. "You tend to get lost in your own career but when you see so many players enjoy themselves - people in and outside the dressing room - that is a sweet moment."
Cook, 56, believed last year's Friends Provident Trophy win at Lord's helped build confidence in the side. "We've introduced something, from a sporting sense, into the north east. Now we have hammered another nail into the wall," he said. "Winning the Friends Provident Trophy last year was great, but it will probably turn into something else in another season, if it's there at all, so that is almost in passing.
"Last year was a terrific help in getting the team confidence but this year we've put our name on a flag that is going to be here for ever more."
Cook, who spent 19 years as a player with Northamptonshire and England, singled out captain Dale Benkenstein's role in Durham's ascent to the top of Division One. "It's a terrifically proud moment for me personally, but it's a fantastic moment for Dale, who is a marvellous leader of this team," he said.
"Whether Dale's scoring runs or taking wickets he sets an example with his desire to win and for his players to do things in the correct way. For him to take the match-turning catch [at gully to dismiss Justin Kemp and end a stand of 107 with Ryan McLaren] was terrific."
There was no denying Steve Harmison's 60 Championship wickets either. "Stephen's pace has obviously troubled everyone all season," said Cook. "This year we were lucky to call on him for probably two-thirds of the campaign and he's been terrific, helping the other bowlers feed off him."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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