BELIEF is the key, Dale Benkenstein says, to further progress in this season’s Friends Life t20.
Harness it, and consistency across their batting and bowling, and Durham can – he insists – challenge for the 20-over title.
After four wins and as many defeats, the Dynamos are third in the North Group table, a position which would see them qualify for the knockout stages.
But it will take more performances like last Sunday’s, when for once batting and bowling flourished in tandem to put Leicestershire to the sword.
The Foxes – bottom of the table – host Durham tonight (5.30pm) with Benkenstein’s men on a high after that nine-wicket win, their biggest in the 20-over format.
But while encouraging a sense of self-belief, the Dynamos captain has warned his side not to take the wounded Foxes lightly.
“It’s amazing how much things can change in a year,” said Benkenstein.
“Last season Leicestershire were one of the hardest teams to beat in 20-over cricket, and they went on to win the competition.
“They’ve struggled this year but they have a lot of the same players, and can still be dangerous.
“In 20 overs, it only takes one or two players to come off with bat or ball and that can make a huge difference.
“Confidence is high after beating them on Sunday, and we’re aiming to be more consistent all of the time. We just have to do what we can to be at our best.
“When we’ve played well we’ve looked a really good side but when we’ve been put on the back foot and asked to come up with answers, we haven’t always managed. In a way, we’re playing in two leagues within a league, where some teams are a much stronger challenge to us than others.
“We have to try and come up with the answers against the better teams, like Lancashire on Sunday, if we want to progress.
“Teams like Lancashire and Nottinghamshire put you under pressure with big totals, whereas against Derbyshire and Leicestershire we’ve found it a little easier.
“But we can’t be complacent on Friday, we have to make sure we do well and if we win we’re in for a real test on Sunday.
“If we can get through and start playing with confidence and consistency across our batting and our bowling, I definitely believe we can be a force in this year’s competition. We’ve got good players, we just need to have belief in ourselves, because that hasn’t always been there this season.”
It has been present in the shape of Herschelle Gibbs, who after a slow start – he scored six and two runs in his first two t20 innings – has produced scores of 38, 76, six, 83, nine and 49.
And Benkenstein says his Durham team-mates can benefit greatly from playing alongside the South African.
“Gibbs has played well, we’re delighted with his contribution so far,” he said.
“When he’s come off he’s got on top of bowlers and stayed there, and that lifts everyone around him.
“He makes it look so easy and when people see him do that it can rub off on them too. He has brought confidence to us on and off the pitch, and it a great motivating factor for us.
“He’s also helping me on the field with a lot of my decisions, which is great because he has huge experience at the very top of the game.
“We have to draw on that, and take it into games.
“When we’re on the back foot we have the team to still win, and when there’s a big score to get we can do it.
“The more we win the more we will believe in ourselves. That’s the key for us.”
DURHAM (from): Gibbs, Mustard (wk), Stokes, Myburgh, Benkenstein (c), Muchall, Smith, Breese, Plunkett, Borthwick, Claydon, Onions, Rushworth.