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Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 10:25 UK

Durham captain bows out in style

Dale Benkenstein
Benkenstein has been with Durham for the last three seasons

Durham captain Dale Benkenstein has confirmed he is standing down from the role following the county's historic County Championship title win.

The South African, who is Durham's most successful captain, admitted the responsibility has affected his game.

He told BBC Radio Newcastle: "You're constantly under pressure and I think I have batted a bit individually.

"The club are quite happy to move forward and I don't think I'll be captain next year."

He added: "A couple of things have caught up with me and it's hard work captaining a side."

Rumours had persisted for some time that Benkenstein was ready to step down from the captain's role, and BBC Radio Newcastle reported earlier in September that he had spoken to the club's board about a possible replacement.

However, with the season now having drawn to a close, Benkenstein is confident it is the correct time to go through with the decision and look to groom his successor.

"It's a good time for me to step down and to help whoever the successor may be, and I believe Will Smith has the credentials, not only cricket-wise but character-wise to lead the side," he said.

"It is a forward step, and I'm sure during the winter we'll discuss it more."

However, the South African, who arrived in England in 2005, is determined to settle and continue playing in the north east for as long as is physically possible.

606: DEBATE
"I want to make England my family's home and Durham have given me every opportunity to lengthen my own career," added Benkenstein.

"I want to play as long as my legs will carry me."

Durham were crowned Division One County Champions after their final-day win in Canterbury against Kent, while Nottinghamshire lost to Hampshire.

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