County news

Mustard sacked as Durham captain

George Dobell

July 3, 2012

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Phil Mustard's hundred pushed Durham past 300, Durham v Nottinghamshire, County Championship, Division One, August 31, 2010
Phil Mustard has been sacked as captain of a Durham side still seeking their first championship win © PA Photos
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Paul Collingwood has been appointed as captain of Durham's County Championship side as the club seek to reverse a disappointing start to the season which has seen them fail to win any of their first eight games.

Collingwood, who led England to the World T20 title in 2010, replaces Phil Mustard, who was appointed in May 2010 after Will Smith was removed as captain in similar circumstances. Dale Benkenstein remains Durham captain in the limited-overs formats.

Durham's head coach Geoff Cook said: "We're delighted that Paul has agreed to take on the captaincy and lead the side in the four-day competition. Paul's international experience is an excellent asset to the team, at a time when we need to be delivering our best results.

"We are grateful for Phil Mustard's efforts as captain and he remains an integral part of the team as a key contributor behind the stumps and with the bat."

Whether a change of captaincy will arrest the decline of an ageing squad remains to be seen. Aged 36 and with a top score of 50 in 12 championship innings this season, Collingwood is probably not a long-term solution.

Collingwood's first game in charge will be next week, when Durham travel to New Road to take on Worcestershire, the only other side in the top division without a win in the championship this season.

Collingwood said: "I'm excited to have the opportunity to use my experience to help us progress in the LV= County Championship and get us back to winning ways."

Durham had been touted as championship challengers, but a side that has grown old together has been bereft of top-order runs and two former England fast bowlers, Steve Harmison and Liam Plunkett, have been conspicuous by their absence.

Mustard took over little more than two years ago when another poor start caused Durham to sack Smith after a heavy defeat at Trent Bridge. The decision was officially one of "mutual consent," but Smith was persuaded that he had lost the trust of senior personnel on a coach journey back from the game.

Now Mustard, who was regarded as the player to restore harmony, has failed to address the championship slide of a county for which successive championships of 2008 and 2009 are now a distant memory.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by CricketingStargazer on (July 4, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

Adrian, Steve Harmison has been injury-plagued over the last year. He did not play at all at the end of last season due to various injuries; when I was at Chester-le-Street in August I was told that his latest comeback attempt had aborted. I think that, with his England place gone, his appetite for the game has gone too and when playing he has operated off a short run and at much reduced speed. Liam Plunkett has been a selectorial move. I can't see Steve Harmison playing next season and Liam Plunkett will probably need to move county to get regular cricket now, especially if Durham go down and have to save on operating costs.

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (July 3, 2012, 19:24 GMT)

Harmison and Plunkett have a combined record this season of 4 first-class appearances, 6 wickets, at an average of 48.00 ... I'm not sure that their "absence" has actually been as "conspicuous" as some Durham fans would like ..

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (July 3, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

This does not look good for Durham. Their County Championship form has been awful and, without a good second half to the season relegation looks likely. Paul Collingwood is, at best, a short-term solution and, with only 311 runs at 25.9 this season, even his continued place in the side is doubtful (although only Smith, Stokes and diVenuto average more, which is a pretty daming statistic about the Durham season). Steve Harmison and Liam Plunkett have played 3 and 1 matches respectively and have seen mostly 2nd XI cricket this season. At least in the case of the former you have to suspect that retirement is likely to come at the end of the season, particularly if Durham do go down.

Posted by Taz786 on (July 3, 2012, 12:29 GMT)

Glad Colly has been given the role. Was shocking the way England treated him after so many years of service he gave to them.

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