DURHAM star Phil Mustard will be aiming to put a horror week behind him when he takes to the field this evening.
The Sunderland-born wicketkeeper was axed as Durham’s four-day skipper on Monday, as the county aimed to halt a disastrous County Championship run, which has seen them fail to win all season.
The former Hylton player was replaced at the helm by ex-England all-rounder Paul Collingwood.
But Mustard will look to put his disappointment aside and to go out and deliver for the team as Dynamos face Leicestershire Foxes in a vital Twenty20 clash at Grace Road tonight (5.30pm start).
“Whatever you do as a job, you have to go out and do it,” he said.
“That’s what you get paid for. You can’t just sit back and let it pass you by.
“You can’t think well this has happened or that has happened, you have to go out and do your job, and that’s what we will all be trying to do.”
Mustard, who is once again set to open the Durham innings with overseas professional Herschelle Gibbs, knows that he and his partner could have another key role to play – the pair having shared an 82 first-wicket stand in a nine-wicket demolition of the Foxes at the Emirates ICG last weekend.
He said: “If you get the first two batters in and playing a few shots then it’s a long road back from there for the other team. It’s important that you start well, and try to get into a groove and go from there.
“Herschelle has had a pretty good T20 campaign for us, and hopefully he can carry that on.
“It’s great to play with Herschelle, he’s a very good player and very confident, and hopefully we can build on last weekend’s partnership.”
Durham beat the struggling Foxes at a canter last weekend, but Mustard is taking nothing for granted when the two sides meet again this evening. He believes tonight’s hosts have some talented cricketers among their ranks.
“Josh Cobb’s been around a while and he’s starting to make a name for himself,” he said.
“They have also got the young wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley, who I was with in Zimbabwe playing T20, so they have a couple of young guys coming through.
“They obviously have a little bit of quality down there, they just have to start performing.”
While Mustard hopes that performance doesn’t come against the Dynamos, he certainly wouldn’t mind if the Foxes and Derbyshire Falcons both find their form before the end of the T20 campaign.
Both Leicestershire and the Falcons still have to play second-top Nottinghamshire, with the latter rounding of their competition at home to first-placed Yorkshire – all three games could have a big say in how the final North Group table ends up.
And with things tight, tonight’s clash between Yorkshire and Lancashire (a place below Durham in fourth) at Old Trafford could prove crucial.
Mustard knows it’s all ifs and buts in terms of who will qualify for the quarter-finals at the moment.
He said: “Notts and Yorkshire are moving ahead, but everybody is beating everybody in this group.
“Hopefully, Leicestershire can do a couple of jobs for us and so can Derbyshire, but we need to keep winning to put ourselves in a good position.
“If we can do that then you never know what will happen.”
Some may feel Mustard will have a point to prove having been stripped of the captaincy, but ever a team player, he insists it is the whole side, and not the individuals who need to deliver.
“I think throughout the season so far, it’s been a case of the bowlers bowling well or the batters batting well, but not both together,” he said.
“Last Sunday we managed to do both, and that is what makes a good side, doing both together.
“We have to try to make sure we keep putting the two together.”