Durham’s four-day captain Phil Mustard is determined to prove he can tolerate a little hardship by playing in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands until mid-December.
He will take over in the Mountaineers team from Hampshire’s Liam Dawson, who played in only one game before deciding the lifestyle was not for him.
Mustard, 29, missed three four-day games early last season because of a gout-related inflamed toe and was advised to cut down on the rich living.
But the hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman is happy to spend a few weeks living in Mutare in a house where he has been told there are monkeys in the garden and elephants in the nearby bush.
Mustard narrowly missed a chance to join Paul Collingwood in Australia’s Big Bash Twenty20 tournament and his agent, James Welch, said: “We are trying to secure him a contract to play in South Africa’s T20 event. It will be a tough month and a half, but Phil is looking forward to helping the Mountaineers on and off the field. Zimbabwe are keen to bring in overseas players to help improve their standards.”
Dawson, 21, was due to spend five months in Zimbabwe. He scored a century and took seven wickets in his one match, a big improvement on his first game for Hampshire last season, when Durham’s Ben Stokes hit him for five sixes off the first five balls of an over.
“There was no electricity a couple of times a week, no lights and it is very third world,” Dawson told BBC Radio Solent. “The cricket club I was at were lovely people, but the trip just didn’t suit me. I was in the bush and there wasn’t really much to do.”
Mountaineers coach Gary Brent is excited about Mustard’s arrival and is looking forward to his first appearance for the Manicaland-based franchise against Southern Rocks on November 12 in the Coca Cola Pro50 Championship.
Mustard will also play in Zimbabwe’s Twenty20 tournament from November 24 until December 1, when other overseas players involved will include Australian pacemen Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes, West Indians Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, and Essex’s Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate.