Durham's Stokes & Benkenstein leave Lancashire reeling
LV County Championship Division One, Emirates Durham ICG
Close of play, day three: Lancashire 313 & 69-3, Durham 586
Durham 8pts, Lancashire 4pts
Ben Stokes and Dale Benkenstein set a new Durham record for any wicket in the County Championship to put their side in complete control against Lancashire.
Stokes finished with a career-best 185 and Benkenstein made 137 as they ended up sharing 331 before Luke Procter had Benkenstein caught behind.
Phil Mustard also hit 61 as Durham went from 279-3 overnight to 586 all out.
Graham Onions then took two wickets as Lancashire closed deep in trouble on 69-3, still 204 behind.
But the day belonged to Stokes and Benkenstein as Lancashire were made to toil.
Stokes was particularly impressive as he twice cleared the Don Robson Pavilion with two sixes off Steven Croft on his way to his new best score, beating the 161 he made against Kent at Canterbury last year.
Dale Benkenstein Durham batsman
“There's an opportunity for him [Ben Stokes] to play for England in the one-day games, and I don't think it's too soon”
And his stand with Benkenstein beat the county's previous best for any wicket of 315 between South African batsman Benkenstein and Ottis Gibson at Headingley in 2006.
Even when they were parted, Mustard continued the assault with three sixes in a 44-ball half-century before he was last out.
Durham's declaration left Lancashire with 25 overs to survive but they were soon in trouble as Onions skidded one through to have Stephen Moore lbw, before a Callum Thorp inswinger also pinned Karl Brown in front.
Paul Horton survived a sharp chance to Stokes, which left the all-rounder with a dislocated finger, but he also fell before the close when he tried to cut Onions and could only bottom edge through to Mustard.
CLOSE OF PLAY REACTION
Durham batsman Dale Benkenstein told BBC Radio 5 live:
"[Ben Stokes] is still a young kid, but he is learning and learning very quickly. He is an exceptional talent that you don't see very often.
"This season he has become more professional, he has really got his head down and it has shown in his performances.
"I feel he is the type of talent that will improve the harder you push him.
"There's an opportunity for him to play for England in the one-day games, and I don't think it's too soon."
CLOSE OF PLAY SUMMARIES
BBC Newcastle's Martin Emmerson:
"This was a brilliant day in the sun for Durham as they moved into a big lead against their arch rivals - and in doing so edged a point ahead of them at the top of the table.
"Dale Benkenstein says his body was falling to pieces last season, but on his form this year you wouldn't think it. This was his fourth hundred of the campaign. He now has 21 for the county in the four-day game and his partnership of 331 with Ben Stokes was a record in a championship match against any team.
"For Stokes, this was his fourth hundred in all competitions this season. His spell with Graeme Thorpe while on tour with the England Lions in the winter has done him the world of good.
"His 185 was his best yet and two of his sixes off Steven Croft were that big they cleared the clubhouse roof. Only Kevin Pietersen and Mark Ealham have managed that on this ground! Durham go for the jugular on the final day with Lancs still 204 behind and three wickets down."
BBC Radio Lancashire's Liam Bradford:
"Lancashire were put under serious pressure for the first time this season on day three of this game.
"A brilliant batting performance from Ben Stokes and an excellent knock from Dale Benkenstein served to take the game away from Lancashire in increments. Durham took their chances too, and removing Moore, Brown and Horton relatively cheaply means Lancashire will have to work hard to earn a draw on the final day.
"Lancashire's performers have come from all over the squad this season, it's what's made them so strong, and it's going to need a few more stand-out performances if they want to take anything from this game."