DURHAM’S Phil Mustard says there’s no secret to their early County Championship success – it’s simply a case of everyone doing their bit.
Mustard top-scored for the hosts yesterday as they faced Division One leaders Middlesex on a dramatic first day at the Emirates ICG.
A considered, rather than explosive. 62 from the wicketkeeper/batsman, helped Durham post a first innings total of 259 all out on the opening day of the contest.
Durham, now third in the table, had a brief spell at the summit, and could return there should they defeat Middlesex over the next three days.
Mustard believes the side’s good start to the campaign in the longer form of the game is down to the efforts of the whole team.
“We’ve had a few disappointing defeats in the one-day stuff, but, in the four-day games, everybody’s put their hand up when they’ve needed to and it’s not just one individual, it’s a team effort,” said the Wearsider.
“Everyone’s getting wickets, everyone’s chipping in with runs, so that’s what you call a good team.”
And Mustard believes Durham are starting to show they have a squad capable of challenging for the points whatever is put before them.
He said: “We went down to Surrey, and they prepared a spinning wicket, but we’ve got spinners who can do damage now.
“And when we come up north we’ve got four seamers who can hit the seam and two spinners, so we’ve got a really good combination of seam and spin.
“It’s never easy to get runs against the attack we have.”
That seam attack certainly hit their straps late-on yesterday.
When Mustard was the last man out for Durham, the home side had just eight overs before the close of play to make an impact.
And they did so with gusto.
Graham Onions was first to strike, sending Sam Robson’s off stump tumbling with the last ball of his first over.
Six balls later, Callum Thorp had Chris Rogers trapped lbw, although the Middlesex man looked none too happy with the decision.
That left the visitors reeling on 3-2, and it could have been worse if Durham hadn’t narrowly missed a chance to run out Joe Denly, which Mustard admitted would have been the icing on the cake.
“If you’d said when we walked out that we’d get the two openers who’ve got a lot of runs this year we would have bitten your hand off,” he said.
“It would have been even nicer if we had got the run-out at the end with (Joe) Denly so close. That would have been a perfect day.
“We come back this morning, and we’ll be fighting again, and hopefully putting the ball in the right areas.”
Earlier in the day, Keaton Jennings (38) and Scott Borthwick (58) put Durham on a sound footing after the loss of Mark Stoneman.
Having reached 108-1, the hosts suffered a mini-collapse, which left them on 149-5, but a 55-run partnership between Will Smith (37) and Mustard helped Durham to a final total of 259 and two batting points.
At one point, Durham looked set for a bigger total, but Mustard felt 259 was about par, given the conditions.
“I think it’s a very good score on this pitch,” he said. “The toss didn’t go our way – we were looking to have a bowl because it was a little bit damp out there, and it was always going to seam around, but fair play to the guys who got us to 100-1.
“It put us in a good position, and 300 would have been a perfect total, but we’ll take 259 because the ball’s still nipping around a bit.”