Jon Lewis has challenged Durham’s second team to put the seniors under pressure with the coach admitting Phil Mustard’s form is not what it should be.
The wicketkeeper-batsman will be part of the team which takes on Sussex tonight. But another poor performance will further undermine his undroppable status.
Mustard is the best keeper in Durham’s First-Class history, and perhaps their finest limited-overs batsman. But his performances this year have not been up to standard.
“We’re not getting as much out of Philip as we should,” coach Lewis admitted ahead of tonight’s televised game.
“He’s a genuine high run-scorer for us and at his best he’s an excellent keeper. He’s not been at his best with the gloves for a while and he’s not getting the volume of runs he normally would.”
Mustard is the county’s leading appearance maker in First-Class and Twenty20 cricket, and 31 behind third-placed Lewis in all other limited-overs cricket.
He has not missed a competitive match for Durham since a toe injury in 2011. The last competitive game he was rested for was a Twenty20 dead rubber in 2007.
Mustard’s 40-run average in the Royal London Cup is a big improvement on his stats in the other competitions, but his keeping has disappointed most. Too many catches and stumpings have gone begging.
“When you’ve got the history he has he buys himself a little bit of time,” Lewis commented.
“But nobody buys themselves forever. If players are putting the guys in the first team under pressure, they won’t be ignored.
“Stu Poynter scored a hundred for Ireland against Sri Lanka A the other week and played well for us against them (his only Durham first-team appearance).
“If he has a good week for the seconds his name is bound to come up in our conversations.” Poynter top-scored for Durham with 58 not out in yesterday’s Second XI Trophy defeat to Nottinghamshire.
The gloveman is not the only second-teamer pushing his case.
Lewis pointed out: “Calum MacLeod and Graham Clark are both saying, ‘What about me?’
“Calum’s had some second-team cricket with the red ball and made hundreds in it but he’s been away from it for a while playing white-ball for the first team.
“Graham Clark’s been doing well recently too.
“Our last County Championship game, against Warwickshire, was a poor performance but I wouldn’t want to over-react.
“That said, the last five Championship games are really important and we need some wins.”
Mark Wood returned from injury at South Northumberland yesterday, though he did not bowl.
If he suffers no reaction he will play in the Championship match, also against Nottinghamshire, which starts this morning. Jamie Harrison is also in the squad.
Ben Stokes is on England duty.
DURHAM (from): Stoneman (c), Mustard (wk), MacLeod, Borthwick, Collingwood, Muchall, Jennings, Breese, Hastings, Onions, Rushworth, Richardson, Coughlin