DURHAM’S tail can cut the Mustard – that’s the verdict of their former four-day skipper, writes GARY FOSTER.
Wicketkeeper-batsmen Phil Mustard, stepped down from the role of captain during last season, but showed again yesterday why he remains a key member of the squad.
Mustard’s knock of 70 from 104 balls, which included nine fours and a six, helped save the home side’s blushes after they recovered from 157-8 to 237 all out.
While the former Hylton CCC man’s innings was measured, mature, and a massive shot in the arm for Durham.
But some vital partnerships with lower order batsmen was also instrumental on the opening day of the LV County Championship Division One clash with rivals Yorkshire at the Emirates ICG.
And Mustard says no one should be surprised to see the tail wag in such a fashion.
“For the last two or three years the tail’s always got crucial runs for us – a 20, a 30 or even a 40 every now and then,” he said.
“Having Scott Borthwick coming in behind me gives me a lot of confidence. Guys like Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth can hold a bat.
“Me and Bunny (Onions) put on nearly 50 and nobody really batted an eyelid at that.
“They can bat it’s quite good when you’ve got people you can trust.
“It’s important. If you look around the country now there’s not many tails where eight, nine, 10, 11 are tailenders. Everybody now needs to be able to hold the bat somewhere along the line.”
Durham’s tail was certainly needed yesterday, as they got off to a terrible start.
Youngster Keaton Jennings went for a first-ball duck, and he was soon followed back into the pavilion by fellow opener as the home side were reduced to 8-2.
Will Smith (42) and Dale Benkenstein (40) did steady the ship somewhat, but despite getting starts couldn’t go on to post a big score.
However, Mustard was still quick to praise their efforts, and believes Durham’s total of 237 wasn’t too short of where they could have expected to be.
He said: “We lost a couple of early wickets which didn’t really help our cause, but I thought both Smith and Benky batted well.
“It’s similar to every time we play at home. Once you get in, it does get a little bit easier.
“It showed when Benky and Will Smith got going, then myself and the players further down the line. It’s a pitch where there’s plenty for the bowlers and if you bat well it’s good for batters.
“When you look at the stats, 250 is normally a pretty good score at home. It’s very rare we get 350, 400, 400-plus here. Two-fiftyish, you’re normally in the game.”
Tim Bresnan was the pick of Yorkshire’s bowlers 4-41 from his 20 overs.
But if the Tykes thought they were in the driving seat after getting 10 Durham wickets on day one, they may have had second thoughts at the close.
Adam Lyth played on for a duck and Phil Jaques was run out without scoring for the visitors, and while England’s Joe Root (30 not out) and Andrew Gale (25) did add some quick runs the latter was out lbw second ball from the end as Yorkshire finished on 57-3.