DURHAM ace Phil Mustard says losing the captaincy hasn’t changed his attitude to the game or the county, writes Gary Foster.
The wicket-keeper batsman was axed as County Championship skipper after a dismal run of results saw them fail to win any of their first 10 four-day games this season.
His replacement, Paul Collingwood, has brought an upturn in fortune and four consecutive championship wins has lifted the threat of relegation which was hanging over them.
Earlier this week, head coach Geoff Cook suggested that being removed as skipper had allowed Mustard to play more of his own game.
But Mustard who was disappointed to lose the captaincy, insists it hasn’t lessened or increased his determination to do his best for his club.
He said: “I did read that. To be honest, every day’s the same to me. I rock up every day and I try to do the best I can every day.
“If I’m captain or not captain, vice-captain or not vice-captain, I just rock up and every day I try to do the best I can for the team. If Geoff thinks I’ve done a bit more now, great.
“I don’t think I’ve ever changed, and that’s what I try to be like.”
Mustard (45) and Scott Borthwick (35) put together a partnership of 83 as Durham battled to 226 all out yesterday – a 15 run lead over opponents Sussex.
The duo helped to turn the tide slightly in the hosts favour after they closed day one on 131-6.
This week’s four-day encounter with Sussex is a historic occasion for Mustard, who has levelled Durham’s First-Class appearance record, which was set by former player and current coach Jon Lewis.
Mustard, who is just one stumping away from a record 500 for the county, is delighted to have reached the landmark, but admits it came as a bit of surprise.
“It was quite funny because I was just reading the paper and I didn’t know anything about it to be honest,” he said.
“I saw I’d equalled it with Jon Lewis and I thought, ‘That’s quite nice!’
“It’s always nice to have a few records but I need one more game to get it. With a bit of luck that will come next year but we’ll see what happens.
“Playing 146 games for Durham, the team you’ve grown up in, is fantastic.
“I’ve still got hopefully another 10 years left in me so hopefully I can play a lot more.
“Stats and that are pretty good, but I just try to take every day as it comes and do the best I can.
“If I’ve played 250 games for a team or one, I always try to give my best on the day I turn up.
“I’ve got a few records but hopefully I can get a few more.”
Mustard and Borthwick departed the crease with Durham still trailing the visitors first innings total, but a partnership of 24 from Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth gave the hosts a slender lead.
Onions was the last batsman to fall after a break for rain, having made nine runs.
Once again Rushworth made sure the home side got off to a flier with the ball.
Having fallen to Rushworth’s first delivery in the first innings, Nash was lbw to the third this time.
Mike Yardy made 29 in a second wicket stand of 40 before he walked into a swinger in Callum Thorp’s first over and was lbw.
Thorp later pinned Wernars with a yorker, while Ben Stokes worked up a lively pace to remove Joe Gatting and Matt Machan.
Luke Wells steadied the ship for the visitors and was unbeaten on 51 at the close as Sussex 112-5 a lead of 96.