Last chance saloon for Durham

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PHIL Mustard can think of no greater joy than winning the County Championship as Durham captain.

The wicket-keeper batsman is in his second season as Durham skipper, and after a difficult and trophyless first year at the helm, he would love nothing more than finishing this campaign with some silverware.

Durham go into their final game of the season at home to Worcestershire on Monday, looking to retain the title which they last won in 2009.

Mustard, pictured, said: “I would love to win the championship. I’ve won it twice, and I’ve won the Friends Provident Trophy as well, but that was as a player not as captain.

“I knew when I took over as skipper I had big boots to fill and a difficult job to do. It was quite hard at times in my first season, but this year it has got a bit easier.

“I’d love to round off my second season by winning the championship. I might not be running around shouting about it if we do it, but I think it will take some time before they could get the smile of my face!

“It would be brilliant and something really special to captain the side to success.”

Durham are in a three-way battle for the title, and will have to wait on how rivals Warwickshire and Lancashire fare in their penultimate games, which end today.

Durham’s hopes are fading though. Warwickshire finished the third day last night needing just four Nottinghamshire wickets today to seal a victory that would take them well clear of Durham and in a dominant position.

Lancashire were also looking at forcing a victory against Hampshire today to boost their claims.

Durham, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from their heavy defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final at Taunton last weekend.

The Dynamos posted just 219 all out from 38.5 overs, and despite a rain-affected game, hosts Somerset raced to 165-3 off 27 overs to claim a 39-run win under the Duckworth-Lewis system.

Despite the blow, Mustard doesn’t expect his side to dwell on what might have been when Worcestershire come to the Emirates ICG on Monday.

He said: “We have suffered a few of blows throughout the season. We got knocked out of the T20 in the quarter-finals (a 55-run defeat away to Hampshire), we suffered some disappointing results in the championship, and last weekend we suffered a big blow in losing the CB40 semi-final.

“But we still have a chance of winning the County Championship, which is a credit to the club and the players, and while we can still do it we can’t allow ourselves to let our heads drop.

“I can’t imagine anyone will need lifting or motivating ahead of the game against Worcestershire. It’s the last game of the season, and it’s our last chance to win something and finish the campaign on a high.”