Mustard desperate to cut it on the big occasion

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The Independent Online

Philip Mustard is the sixth wicketkeeper used by England this year. This demonstrates either an embarrassment of riches or a plethora of mediocrity, and whichever it is, it fuels the perception that while the selectors might wear the trousers, they have little clue about who should wear the gloves.

In the case of Mustard, to be fair to the panel he has been summoned to the team for the one-day series in Sri Lanka because the original choice, Matt Prior, broke a thumb during theill-fated World Twenty20. Still, they might have reverted to one of the previous incumbents.

Mustard earned the call-up because of his performances for Durham last season. In the Championship he had 62 victims, 19 more than his closest rival, and if that bespeaks the quality of the county's seamers, the edges still have to be taken.

It was his one-day batting, however, that confirmed his place in the selectors' good books. He scored 893 runs in limited-overs cricket at a strike rate of 111, and these impressive figures were embellished by a breathtaking innings of 49 in the Friends Provident Trophy Final at Lord's. It seemed to show that Mustard could cut it on the big occasion.

He is known as The Colonel, though in reality he is more cheeky corporal than senior officer. He is one of the brigade of garrulous glovemen, though with a much less confrontationaledge than some. "I am more an encourager than a chirper," he said. "Every wicketkeeper is daft, and I have my times. You have to be relaxed and enjoy it."

He is the sixth Durham cricketer to represent England, and his passage into the team will be helped by the presence of Paul Collingwood as captain and Ottis Gibson as bowling coach.

Mustard came by accident to wicketkeeping when he was 15. "I'd tried everything – bowling leg spin, fast – when my brother,who was a keeper, got injured in a league game and I said I'd have a go. It seemed to come naturally.The wicketkeeping slot has changed hands a few times in the last year but if I perform, who knows where it will take me?"

If it comes naturally enough to him in the next fortnight, England can delay their search for a seventh keeper.