Every Monday throughout the cricket season, Durham batsman Dale Benkenstein and Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance pen exclusive weekly columns for The Northern Echo

ON the bus again, travelling down the M1 on our only day of rest between four tough days against Yorkshire and the same to come at Trent Bridge. The card school is in full force – Stokes, Colonel, Woody, Rocky and Rushy.

Onions is fast asleep on the floor at the back praying Colly wins the toss and we bat first!

The loss to Yorkshire, having dominated the game until the last two sessions, was a real blow. We improved on so many areas from the Warwickshire game, which is reassuring going into the Notts match as it’s going to be another terrific battle. There are no easy games in division one.

We’re hoping Samit Patel hasn’t put any spikes on the back of his shoes after his hilarious run out against Derbyshire. Check it out on You Tube if you haven’t seen it.

I WATCHED the video of our 2007 Friends Provident final win at Lord’s last week to see some positive things and I really think it helped.

They were really great memories and to see yourself playing well after a tough start to the season makes you remember how it felt. It helps you to relax and trust your instincts.

The top four hadn’t made any runs and every game brings more pressure.

That opening stand in our second innings against Yorkshire was great because of the pressure they were under. For Rocky to get a hundred was tremendous and Keaton was also really good. After two golden ducks I told him before his second innings just to relax and trust his instincts. If you are tense you can’t move. He said he’d been on the phone to his dad, who said: “It can’t get any worse so just relax and enjoy it.”

I only really know his dad (Ray Jennings) as an opposition coach in South Africa, where he was the best wicketkeeper around when I was growing up.

He’s a huge cricket man and has been successful with every team he’s coached. He’s coaching Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL at the moment and is probably coming over here later in the summer.

AS a unit I thought our seam attack was better than Yorkshire’s. They had some weak links, but we had four guys who were a threat, which just shows what a good innings Joe Root played. We bowled some really good spells, but he kept them out and put the loose balls away effortlessly.

He was always in control and as long as he was there they were going to win. The impressive thing to me was that for such a young man he never broke sweat.

We would have had a dash at the end of our second innings had it not rained.

We ended up about 40 shy of where we wanted to be and those extra runs would have helped when we had to use Scott Borthwick. He’s an attacking bowler but he’s always going to leak runs.

He was trying to pitch it in the rough in the final session, but he’s not bowling at his best and there were plenty of scoring opportunities for them.

He and Adil Rashid are the only two leg-spinners regularly playing county cricket. Neither took a wicket but they both offer a lot with the bat.

I’M still one-day captain and we’re having to prepare for the first games next weekend while also getting ready for Trent Bridge. It’s a tough schedule but that’s why you need a squad and why a lot more time is spent now on fitness and conditioning.

We’re at home to Essex on Sunday, which is Steve Harmison’s benefit match, although he won’t be in the frame after his hamstring injury.

We’ll have Colly batting at three with me at four to give us some stability before the power hitters like Ben Stokes come in.

We’re at Old Trafford the next day and the Oval three days later. It doesn’t stop – except for bus rides. Time to catch up on some sleep.