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9th April 2009

Benks picks up Wisden accolade

Dale is one of six Durham players to receive this recognition in the past four years, namely, Neil McKenzie, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Stephen Harmison, Paul Collingwood and Ottis Gibson.

The Five Cricketers of the Year represent a tradition that dates back in Wisden to 1889, making this the oldest individual award in cricket. The selection of the Five is a perk of being editor, and it is up to him whether he wishes to take soundings from others. 

Excellence in the previous English summer is the major criterion for inclusion in the Five, but not the only one. In fact, the award is a recognition of a player’s influence on the last English season, allowing Matthew Engel, editor of Wisden 1997, to select Sanath Jayasuriya, who had not played in England in the preceding year. However, his batting at the 1996 World Cup changed the shape of the one-day game for good. 

Just as importantly, no one can be chosen more than once. Well, two exceptions prove that particular rule: after being named a Cricketer of the Year in 1904, Plum Warner was singled out for a special tribute in 1921, while Sir Jack Hobbs trod the same exceptional path – selection for the Five in 1909 and a solo tribute 17 years later, in 1926. Claire Taylor, in 2009, was the first woman to receive the accolade. 

Since then, every Wisden bar eight wartime almanacks has named a set of five. And since 2004, these have been complemented by the selection of the Leading Cricketer in the World.

Will Smith, who has taken over the Durham captaincy said, “There isn’t a more respected or deserving individual than Dale.  He has had a huge influence over the Club for the last few years and it’s great this has been recognised.”

The Northern Echo’s Tim Wellock, who follows Durham CCC home and away, said, “In my opinion, Dale is the best signing that Durham have ever made and the award is thoroughly deserved.”