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Benkenstein ready to move aside

Dale Benkenstein has confirmed he is unlikely to continue as Durham captain after leading them to their first County Championship title. The trophy was presented at the club's annual dinner on Monday night and Benkenstein says it's the ideal time for the side to build on the success under a new captain.
Benkenstein feels his form has suffered even though his numbers are still reasonable. In the Championship he scored 783 runs at 43.50 from 14 matches, while he has become regarded as one the finest captains on the circuit.

"You're constantly under pressure and I think I have batted a bit individually," he told BBC Radio Newcastle. "The club are quite happy to move forward and I don't think I'll be captain next year. A couple of things have caught up with me and it's hard work captaining a side."

Will Smith, who was named the club's player of the year, is favourite to take over in charge. He didn't start the season in the first XI, but after being given his chance racked up 925 runs at 51.38 including a career-best 201 against Sussex. He was quick to pay tribute to the part Benkenstein played in Durham's success.

"Dale has underpinned all we have done, and without him I am sure we would not have had the success we have had," he told the Evening Chronicle. "He would be a hard act to follow, but I would love to take over as captain.

"It would be silly of me to turn it down if I am offered the job. It would be a massive challenge and a great honour," he added. "What has happened this week has not sunk in yet. We looked like being bridesmaids in everything, but to win the Championship was absolutely brilliant."

Smith was tipped for a place in the England Performance Squad to tour India after his successful year, but missed out on the 15-man squad which included Durham team-mates Mark Davies and Liam Plunkett.