Phil Mustard: Cutting the Mustard as a Twenty20 specialist

Durham's captain is just one of many county pros playing the shortest form of game all over the world. He talks to Jon Culley

While the riches of the Indian Premier League remain frustratingly out of reach for all but a handful of top English players, the expanding international Twenty20 circuit is becoming a useful source of employment, paradoxically, for county cricketers for whom the £1.3m contract Kevin Pietersen has with Delhi Daredevils will never be anything but a fantasy.

Current England Test players James Anderson, Ian Bell, Graeme Swann, Matt Prior and Ravi Bopara all failed to attract a bid in the 2012 IPL auction. Eoin Morgan is the only other member of Andrew Strauss's line-up taking part, with Stuart Broad's involvement for King's XI Punjab now curtailed because of the Nottinghamshire pace bowler's calf injury.

Yet Lancashire duo Paul Horton and Tom Smith, Surrey's Tom Maynard, Jason Roy and Rory Hamilton-Brown, Somerset all-rounder Peter Trego, Durham captain Phil Mustard and the young Essex batsman Adam Wheater were among more than two dozen players instantly recognisable to county cricket audiences who were able to supplement their salaries playing Twenty20 cricket in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

The Stanbic Bank 20 series final in Harare in December was won by a Mountaineers side for whom 29-year-old wicketkeeper Mustard scored 56 from 31 balls, beating a Mashonaland Eagles team featuring Trego and Hamilton-Brown as well as other familiar names in Essex's South African all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate and his compatriot Andrew Hall, who captains Northamptonshire.

Mustard also reached the final of the Bangladesh Premier League with Barisal Burners, although he finished on the losing side against a Dhaka Gladiators line-up that included Kent's former Pakistan bowler Azhar Mahmood, now a British citizen.

Trego was another who moved on from Zimbabwe to the BPL, which also featured Nottinghamshire's Andre Adams, Surrey's Maynard and Roy, Alexei Kervezee of Worcestershire and Kent's Darren Stevens.

Mustard, who made an unbeaten 88 from 58 deliveries in a group match for Barisal against a Duronto Rajshahi attack led by Pakistan Test bowlers Mohammad Sami and Abdul Razzaq, believes the shortest form of the game will offer more opportunities for lesser-known names to pick up a winter bonus, as well as to sharpen their skills.

"For me, playing in the two tournaments has been a really valuable experience," he said. "It was not just about travelling around the world. I felt that if I could play against some world-class players it would help me become a better player in Twenty20, and maybe help me contribute more for Durham in that form of the game.

"Zimbabwe was about getting my foot in the door, so to speak, and while the standard was not so high as Bangladesh there are a lot of talented young players emerging in Zimbabwe and the number of English-based players made it a decent competition.

"It went really well for me in that we won the tournament and with that on my CV I was able to get a team in the Bangladesh one. There I was able to play alongside world-class Twenty20 players in Chris Gayle and Brad Hodge and if I can pass on some of the knowledge I was able to pick up on hopefully it will be helpful to the lads in the Durham dressing room.

"I can see more English players wanting to become involved. There are quite a few tournaments now and apart from the financial incentives it is a good opportunity to keep ticking over during the winter, especially for players who are not involved in international cricket. It is nice to see different places and get a bit of sun on your back, too.

"Financially it was OK without being a fortune. There is not a lot of money in Zimbabwe but there are a lot of people working hard to put the country back on the map in cricketing terms.

"And if you have a really good competition, obviously your value goes up and that's where you can cash in, although for me at the moment it is just about getting experience.

"Winning the Twenty20 here is always a big target for Durham and I want to improve my own game, learning how to turn 40s and 50s into hundreds. I didn't get a hundred but I did get a couple of 80s. Overall I had a pretty consistent winter."

Durham have made finals day only once since the domestic Twenty20 Cup was launched in 2003, despite a series of big-name signings including Shaun Pollock, Ross Taylor, Albie Morkel, David Warner and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

This year they have lined up South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs and Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson and Mustard is already excited about the prospect, even though his initial focus is on the County Championship, in which they open at home to Nottinghamshire today.

"Gibbs and Johnson are both top-class players and with Paul Collingwood back from England and Ben Stokes fit again we have a squad with enough depth and quality to challenge on all fronts."

Twenty20 around the world: The county cricket roll-call

Stanbic Bank 20 Series (Zimbabwe)

Gary Ballance (Yorkshire; Mid West Rhinos)

Liam Dawson (Hampshire; Mountaineers)

Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex; Mashonaland Eagles)

Ned Eckersley (Leicestershire; Mountaineers)

Andrew Hall (Northants; Mashonaland Eagles)

Rory Hamilton-Brown (Surrey; Mashonaland Eagles)

Paul Horton (Lancashire; Matabeleland Tuskers)

Phil Mustard (Durham; Mountaineers)

Tom Smith (Lancashire; Matabeleland Tuskers)

Peter Trego (Somerset; Mashonaland Eagles)

Riki Wessels (Nottinghamshire; Rhinos)

Adam Wheater (Essex; Matabeleland Tuskers)

Bangladesh Premier League

Andre Adams (Nottinghamshire; Khulna Royal Bengals)

Kabir Ali (Hampshire; Barisal Burners)

Sean Ervine (Hampshire; Duronto Rajshahi)

Gary Keedy (Lancashire; Sylhet Royals)

Alexei Kervezee (Worcestershire; Dhaka Gladiators)

Azhar Mahmood (Kent; Barisal Burners)

Tom Maynard (Surrey; Sylhet Royals)

Phil Mustard (Durham; Barisal Burners)

Niall O'Brien (Kent; Khulna Royal Bengals)

Jason Roy (Surrey; Chittagong Kings)

Darren Stevens (Kent; Dhaka Gladiators)

Peter Trego (Somerset; Sylhet Royals)

MIWAY T20 Challenge (South Africa)

Zander de Bruyn (Surrey; Lions)

Paul Collingwood (Durham; Impi)

Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex; Impi)

Neil McKenzie (Hampshire; Lions)

Alviro Petersen (Essex; Lions)

Owais Shah (Essex; Cape Cobras)

Alfonso Thomas (Somerset; Titans)

Luke Wright (Sussex; Impi)

KFC Big Bash (Australia)

Paul Collingwood (Durham; Perth Scorchers)

Jade Dernbach (Surrey; Melbourne Stars)

Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire; Sydney Sixers)

Owais Shah (Essex; Hobart Hurricanes)

Alfonso Thomas (Somerset; Adelaide Strikers)

Luke Wright (Sussex; Melbourne Stars)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London