Essex 341 (Khushi 104, Westley 104) beat Glamorgan 238 (Northeast 70, Benkenstein 6-42) by 103 runs
Benkenstein, the son of former South African all-rounder Dale, who is first-team coach at Gloucestershire, took advantage of the sort of conditions that have helped to make Simon Harmer the most formidable spin bowler in the country
He only made his debut against Durham less than a week ago, at his dad’s old stamping ground at Chester-le-Street, and had not taken a wicket for Essex’s first team when he came on to bowl the 22nd over with Glamorgan making good progress towards their target of 342.
His incredible quick-fire haul changed that – and crucially it included the crucial wicket of Sam Northeast, who was in the process of batting himself back into form with an 81-ball 70. Benkenstein finished with figures of 6-42 in the 103-run win.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed to tell you the truth at the moment, ” he said. “It was a great team performance in the end in very warm conditions so it was unbelievable from the boys.Getting the wicket of Northeast was very satisfying, he was going very well but I knew if I got it in the right place, he was eventually going to have to go after me because the run-rate was creeping up. Luckily, I got it in the right place and so today it was my day but on another, it could have been his.
“We could do with some rain on the outfield. Quite a few of the lads have got nasty cuts and a lot of blood over their shirts but they are a terrific bunch of lads and they put their bodies on the line whatever the conditions.”
For Khushi his 86-ball knock, including five sixes, was his second century of the season, scored on successive Sundays, while Westley recorded a ton in consecutive matches from 110 balls. However, once they departed Essex crashed from 247-3 to 303-9 in the blink of an eye with Andrew Salter’s off-breaks claiming 3-72.
Glamorgan’s tails were up when Josh Rymell thick-edged the second legitimate ball of the game from James Harris to slip. They had to wait more than 30 overs for their second success by which time Essex had motored beyond 200.
In between Khushi and Westley set about the bowling with an almost nonchalant relish. Westley, coming in at No3, dominated the initial part of the partnership, contributing 49 of the first hundred and then reaching his own half-century from 51 balls.
The younger Khushi was slightly more subdued at the outset and managed just two fours in his fifty scored from 57 balls, but he kept the scoreboard ticking along with singles and doubles.
However, it was in the latter stages of his innings that he burst into life. His first fifty included a straight six off the unfortunate Douthwaite. There was a second swept off Prem Sisodiya before Colin Ingram was taken out of the attack after three legside sixes in an over that had the umpires reaching regularly for the spares box.
Khushi’s second fifty took just 29 balls as a single to deep cover took him to three-figures. But in the same over he played all around a delivery from David Lloyd and was bowled.
Westley was a spectator for a spell while Khushi ran rampant, but reached his own ton with a push into the onside from his 101st ball. But he was bamboozled by a delivery from Salter that was going down legside, he overbalanced and was stumped off a wide.
The two centurions removed, Glamorgan’s bowlers suddenly detected a soft underbelly and six wickets went down in six overs before a last-wicket flourish added 38
Only Grant Roelofsen, entering at No4, avoided the carnage at the other end and finished unbeaten on 69 from 55 balls, reaching his half-century with a six into the visitors’ dressing room.
In response, Lloyd struck seven boundaries in a 17-ball 30 before he picked out Snater on the square-leg boundary to give New Zealander Ray Toole a first wicket on debut.
Apart from a pulled six, Ingram struggled for any fluency despite a half-century stand with Northeast. He had reached 17 from 25 balls when he took a swish at Nijjar and was lbw.
Northeast lost his captain Kiran Carlson after another fifty partnership when he chopped Benkenstein to backward point. Benkenstein’s second followed soon after when Northeast decided to charge and was stumped by Roelofsen, and the third arrived when Khushi raced in from the cover boundary to dive and dismiss Tom Bevan.
Douthwaite leant back and tried to force Benkenstein away, only to play on. Two balls later Tom Cullen went walkabouts and was stumped.
Nijjar had Weighell caught behind off an attempted reverse sweep before Benkenstein returned to dismiss Harris, courtesy of Nijjar’s snatch around the corner off a top edge.