PHIL Mustard is convinced that Durham are just one win away from turning their stuttering season around.
Durham are bottom of the Division One standings and without a win after a torrid first two months of the season that have seen rain and poor batting lay ruin to a supposed title bid.
Instead they are now concentrating on affairs at the wrong end of the table and require a performance of substance against Lancashire, who are seventh and also searching for their first victory of the season. The Riverside contest begins this morning.
It has prompted talk of a crisis at the Riverside but Mustard says confidence remains high among the team, who alleviated some of the pressure with an excellent one-day defeat of Scottish Saltires on Sunday.
That victory saw Mustard hit an impressive 91 alongside fellow opener Mark Stoneman, who hit an unbeaten 136 to ease Durham to an eight-wicket win. With runs so hard to come by at county level, they are taking plenty of belief from that big-scoring victory.
“I can’t remember the last time we got 260 in a one-day game. Once you get a couple of guys who start hitting form a little bit it just makes everything a little bit easier for everyone around you,” he said.
“It puts us in a better position for Wednesday. This is a massive one – ourselves and Lancs were up there last year but we haven’t really hit the ground running this year.
“It’s going to be very tough. I’m sure they’re coming here ready for a battle and if we’re not ready for a battle against them we could find ourselves in some trouble.
“The sooner we get this win, the better for us. Alright it’s been a tough, tough start and we’ve had a lot of games in a short space of time. It’s been tough but we have to take that and put up a good performance.
“Once we get one, it will put us on the right tracks. At the minute people are little bit hit and miss and a bit down but we’re all adults in this squad. We all have to start improving.”
Durham have retained much of the same team that fell to such a disappointing defeat at Somerset with the exception of Michael De Venuto, who misses out with an Achilles problem.
Dale Benkenstein returns after shaking off a shoulder problem but it will be interesting to see whether Mark Stoneman will be given the chance to open alongside Will Smith after his excellent one-day performance.
Stoneman comes in at number three in county championship but opens in the shorter form of the game – and his unbeaten 136 was a huge part of the reason why Durham made short work of the Saltires on a sun-kissed track at the Riverside.
Mustard said: “It was a good win for us and it had a bit of everything. When we fielded OK we didn’t do brilliantly and when they got 260 you think ‘They’ve put us under the cosh a little bit’ but we overcame that and put on a pretty good batting performance.
“We were never really in trouble, we just wanted to keep wickets in hand. But as we went along we got more confident and more capable. We made it pretty easy in the end.”
Will Smith, Mark Stoneman, Gordon Muchall, Ben Stokes, Paul Collingwood, Dale Benkenstein, Ian Blackwell, Phil Mustard, Graham Onions, Steve Harmison, Jamie Harrison, Callum Thorp, Mitch Claydon.