Mark Stoneman has pedigree to lead Durham

Mark Stoneman has the dressing room respect he needs to be a great captain of Durham CCC believes Dale Benkenstein

Mark Stoneman of Durham CCC
Mark Stoneman of Durham CCC

Dale Benkenstein believes Mark Stoneman has the dressing room respect he needs to be a successful Durham captain.

The 26-year-old opener has been thrown into the deep end this season by injuries, but could be offered some respite at Trent Bridge tomorrow.

Benkenstein dislocated his shoulder in May, ruling him out for the rest of the season. Stoneman was asked to take over the YB40 side as Durham look to groom him as a future skipper.

But a lacerated thumb for Paul Collingwood at Scarborough last month has left Stoneman in charge of all formats of the game.

Benkenstein, the first captain to lift the County Championship for Durham, thinks it was an excellent choice to turn to him.

“He really wants to do it, which is the most important thing,” said the South African, who has been assisting interim coach Jon Lewis in this season’s Twenty20 Cup.

“Rocky has the respect of the players and at a good age he’s making runs.

“The most important thing is for players to trust him. Unfortunately that only comes after a bit of time. You have to have a bit of experience of him making the right decisions for that.”

Durham have been desperate to find local players to lead them.

Will Smith, born in Bedfordshire but a Durham University graduate, was ushered in to succeed Benkenstein as captain when he showed sufficient form to be guaranteed a place in the side.

Since Smith was sacked, academy graduates Phil Mustard and Collingwood have taken charge, with Benkenstein lightening the load by leading the white-ball teams.

Two fifties in 11 innings as captain at an average of 20 suggest Stoneman is still feeling his way into a role Durham had planned to ease him into.

Having been named captain of Natal aged 22, Benkenstein fully understands the pressures on Stoneman.

Benkenstein suffered a heavy defeat to Border in his first game in charge, but ended the 1996-97 season as four-day and one-day champions.

“The hard thing for a new captain is everyone wants to help you and they tend to have different opinions,” he explained. “Sometimes that can be quite difficult.”

Collingwood has batted in the nets this week and could take back the reins for tomorrow’s Twenty20 Cup encounter at Nottinghamshire, where Durham will be looking for only their third win of the group stage.

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