DURHAM’S Phil Mustard is going to the other end of the planet to try to win back his England place.
The wicketkeeper-batsman has not played international cricket since 2008, when he made the last of 12 appearances in New Zealand.
However, he hopes a spell of domestic cricket there can give the Three Lions selectors a nudge.
The 30-year-old said: “I think if I can do well in New Zealand and around the world, England will have to look at me.
“If I want to play for England again, these are the sort of opportunities I have to look at.
“I think if I can perform well at that level, they do notice.”
Mustard will spend his Christmas as overseas pro for the Auckland Aces, where he will be a key part of their side in the 20-over HRV Cup, which they won last year.
He had similar spells in domestic Twenty20 competitions with Zimbabwe’s Mountaineers and Bangladeshi outfit Barisal Burners last winter.
Mustard added: “In the last two years I’ve had a few stints and it’s something I need to do more of if I want to do well. I wish I’d done it a few years ago.
“I don’t think Zimbabwe will be happening this year, but I’m hoping I might be able to go back to Bangladesh.
“That’s a big one because there are real world-class players in that league, including Saeed Ajmal and Chris Gayle.”
Durham benefited last season, with Mustard outstanding in the CB40.
He averaged 47.50 and his three centuries equalled the county record for most in a limited-overs season.
He said: “I think I’m improving year on year.
“Five years ago I didn’t have a one-day hundred to my name, but I got two last year and three this.
“Realistically, cricket is a long game and I’ve learned if one of your top two or three get a good score anywhere in the world you tend to win.”
Mustard is not expected to keep wicket for the Aces, though he sees it as his best route into England’s limited-overs plans.
He added: “I’m there as an option (as Auckland wicketkeeper) and if I keep as well that’s great.
“I’m going there to play cricket, improve as a player and get some sun on my back.”
For years England have struggled to find a convincing limited-overs wicketkeeper, with a variety of players failing to make a cast-iron case for selection over the long-term. Craig Kieswetter is the current incumbent, although fellow glovemen Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have featured as specialist batsmen.
Mustard played ten one-day internationals for England in the 2007-08 winter, averaging 23, but a top-score of 83 – against New Zealand – in his penultimate game suggested progress was being made. He scored 60 runs in two international Twenty20 appearances.
He is expected to make his Auckland debut against Canterbury in a Ffrst-class game starting on December 21 at Eden Park.
His HRV Cup debut should come five days later. Coach Paul Strang said: “We’re looking forward to his arrival and think he’ll be a great addition to the side.
“He’s played at the highest level and will bring the attitude and determination that goes with that.
“He is also a proven performer at the top of the order, which is what we need for the HRV Cup.”
The second Bangladesh Premier League is due to start on January 17 and the players’ auction is held on December 7.
Mustard will be able to play in it and return in plenty of time for the start of Durham’s pre-season.
Barisal reached the inaugural BPL final last year, losing to Dhaka Gladiators.