Will Smith has been named Durham's new captain, replacing Dale Benkenstein who stepped down after leading the county to their first County Championship title in 2008.
Smith's promotion marks a rapid rise through the ranks at Durham after he joined from Nottinghamshire in 2007. At the beginning of the recent season he wasn't in the starting XI, but once his chance came he grasped it and finished as the club's player of the year. He averaged 51.38 in the Championship and struck a career-best, unbeaten 201 against Surrey at Guildford.

"I am delighted and honoured to be taking over as captain of Durham," Smith said. "The county has a proud tradition and to follow, amongst others, David Graveney, David Boon, Jon Lewis, Mike Hussey and of course Dale in captaining the side fills me with pride and excitement at the challenges that lie ahead.

"Having tasted the historic success of the past two seasons, I am determined to see that the club continue to make similar strides on the field, and I will do everything possible to ensure that the 2009 season picks up where 2008 left off."

Smith has previous captaincy experience with Durham University and Durham's 2nd XI and Geoff Cook, the head coach, is confident Smith can build on Benkenstein's successful stint as captain, which also brought the Friends Provident Trophy in 2007.

"Will is a great chap with a great cricketing mind who is committed to the club and I'm sure that his previous captaining experience, in addition to the support of the senior players in the squad, will prove to be invaluable as he takes on this new challenge.

We obviously took Dale's recommendation very seriously and look forward to starting the new season with Will as captain," he said. "Dale has been an excellent leader, bringing home three trophies in the past two seasons, as well as playing an integral role in developing the younger members of the squad, which he will continue to do for the next few years. We would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment to the club."