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Durham name Benkenstein and Mustard as 2011 captains

Phil Mustard and Dale Benkenstein
Mustard (left) and Benkenstein will share the Durham captaincy

Durham will split the captaincy between Phil Mustard and Dale Benkenstein for the 2011 season.

Mustard, 28, took over from batsman Will Smith as captain for all forms of the game in May.

He will continue to skipper Durham in first-class cricket next term, while Benkenstein will lead the side in the limited-over formats of the game.

"The decision is the best one for the team to get positive results," coach Geoff Cook told BBC Newcastle.

"To give Phil some respite, Dale will take on the responsibilities for limited-overs cricket," Cook added.

Smith has not played a first-class game for Durham since wicketkeeper Mustard, who has played 10 one-day internationals for England, took the reigns.

He will be accompanied by former South Africa international batsman Benkenstein, 36, who led Durham to their first ever County Championship title in 2008.

He then stood down and was replaced by Smith, who captained Durham to a defence of their title in 2009, but both he and his side struggled for form in the early part of 2010.

Cook added: "Coaching a county team has always been a big job, but these days it's harder when the expectations and the hopes of committee men and chief executives grow larger.

"There's more money to be had, so the need to win games seems more prevalent and consequently the pressure increases accordingly.

"In this situation where we can divide the responsibilities hopefully without prejudicing the performances of the team, then I think it's a situation that could become more apparent in county cricket generally."

Mustard's appointment came as an early switch following Smith's unsuccessful second term in the post.

Smith's side began last season as reigning county champions but were 55 points behind leaders and eventual winners Nottinghamshire when the Mustard took over the role.

"It was a bigger job than I expected," Mustard said. "I was expecting just to lead the team on, but with all the different formats of the game you've got to drop players for this, bring in players for that, do all the ins and outs of selection.

"That's where I found it pretty hard, because if someone's bowling well in the Championship then they want to play in the one-dayers, but you might be playing somebody else and it got a bit complicated.

"Now Dale's decided to come back on board to do the one-day and Twenty20 stuff, I'm really pleased because I think I can learn a lot more now.

"He's been a father figure for a lot of us, because of the experience that he has."

Benkenstein's last stint as captain culminated in a remarkable run of success, including a first major silverware win with the Friends Provident Trophy defeat of Hampshire at Lord's in 2007, followed by the County Championship a season later.

He stood down for Smith after the first title success, but has remained a key figure at Durham since.

"My main concern was for Philip and for Will," he said. "It's disappointing how things have panned out, because it wasn't the plan and I feel sad for Will that he's in this position.

"I've had two years off not having to do all that stuff so I feel pretty refreshed.

"The season changes every year and it has got harder. There are more Twenty20 games which is the hardest form of the game to captain, and no-one's really 100% sure of the right formula.

"I don't think the club wanted to throw Phil into a full season again as captain, fairly inexperienced, where if things don't go well again they have someone being sacrificed again - they'd rather sacrifice me.

"It gives Phil another year to get experience and you need experience and with the way the season is. Hopefully this is just a stepping stone for him, or to finding someone to take over."

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