James Benning is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting players on the county circuit courtesy of his devastating one day performances for Surrey.
After representing England as a schoolboy and playing minor county cricket with Buckinghamshire he started duties with Surrey second XI as a 17 year old and, after consistent scoring in 2002, made his county debut later that season against Northants. In addition he hit quick runs for England U-19 against India that summer.
2003 saw Benning start to display his skills in the Twenty20 cup and in 2004 the Londoner was introduced on all cricketing fronts and, while he didnt respond with huge scores or averages, his strike rate showed him to be a potential danger to any side.
2005 saw him start to convert that potential to become a top of the order one day hitter. A 37 ball 66 against Kent signalled a string of nearly two runs per ball innings that season.
2006 saw some championship opportunities, but it was in the one day game he flourished. Against Gloucestershire, after recording his first championship century, he hit the same attack for 189 off 146 balls in the C&G. This was followed by more big hitting exploits in the Twenty20 Cup.
His four golden ducks in 2006 probably entitles him to platinum membership of the Primary Club and may ensure an element of hesitation at Surrey before they hand him a long term role as a four day player.
However Benning has a rare talent to exploit fielding restrictions in the early overs of games and he can also operate as an effective one day medium pacer.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2007 John Dobson)