Mustard keen to continue as Durham’s four-day captain

Durham’s Phil Mustard admits his captaincy isn’t as faultless as his tossing of the coin, but he is keen to carry on next season.

The man known as ‘The Colonel’ has scored ten out of ten with the toss in County Championship cricket this season, and said: “In away games I always look at the coin. If it’s a 50p I call heads, if it’s 20p it’s tails. I learnt that playing pitch and toss at school.”

Mustard missed the first three four-day games with an inflamed toe, during which Dale Benkenstein – the club’s one-day captain – won the toss twice.

Since then the wicketkeeper has had an incredible 100 per cent record but he admitted there were times when it had been of no benefit, especially after putting Somerset in twice. At the Emirates Durham ICG they amassed 610 for six and at Taunton they made 480.

But the decision hasn’t been purely down to the captain, who added: “I never really looked at pitches until I was appointed last year, whereas Geoff Cook had vast experience as a county captain and has been our coach for 20 years.

“He and I make the decision together. Taunton had a green top and it seemed like a good idea to bowl, but the pitch didn’t offer much help. I’ll always bat there in future.”

Mustard succeeded Will Smith in May as captain last year, then during the winter it was decided to split the role, with Benkenstein resuming the one-day reins. There has been speculation that Paul Collingwood might take over the captaincy next season after signing a three-year contract.

But Mustard said: “I really enjoy it and I’m getting a feel for it and starting to understand it a bit more. That doesn’t happen overnight – every day you can learn something new.

“Splitting the four-day and one-day captaincy has been a good move. I didn’t think so at first, but it has worked well and I think it will happen a lot more. It’s nice for me to be able to relax a bit more in one-day cricket and not have the responsibility for picking teams and telling people they’ve been left out.

“Dale has a really good cricket brain and has years of experience as a captain. It probably takes three to five years to learn all aspects of the job and I’d like to keep going.

“Paul Collingwood brings a lot of knowledge from his England career and when he’s at first slip he’s the first person I speak to. But it’s still my decision. He only jumps in when he needs to. He helps in any way I can, bu I don’t think he wants the hassle of being at the forefront.”

After a week off Durham are back in action in a Clydesdale Bank 40 match at Northampton on Sunday August 21, but there will be no comeback for either Liam Plunkett or Steve Harmison, who is still struggling with his ankle problem.

Cook said: “Liam is going to do a lot of rehabilitation work on his bowling action. It will be a really concerted effort to try to get the foundations right.”

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