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4th February 2008

Colly Backs Mustard To Come Good

Durham keeper-batsman Mustard is expected to be given the gloves for the two 20-over matches and the five one-day internationals against New Zealand with strict instructions to play in the same aggressive manner he favours in county cricket.

Mustard has failed to reproduce that at the top level, failing to make a significant score in five one-day internationals in Sri Lanka before Christmas, and he struggled for rhythm in the two warm-up matches against Canterbury over the weekend, managing just 33 runs in two innings.

But county team-mate and England one-day captain Collingwood is confident Mustard can show just how destructive he can be when he makes his Twenty20 international debut at Eden Park on Tuesday.

“It would have been great for him to have got a fifty or a hundred, but he’s kept fantastically well and he’ll come good with the bat,” enthused Collingwood.

“The good thing is that they’ve actually got off to a good start in the two games, but it would be good for him to go on and get a score.”

Though runs have been hard to come by, Mustard has impressed behind the stumps.

He looked particularly adept standing up to the fast-medium pace of Luke Wright and medium pace of Collingwood and Dimitri Mascarenhas, which can be a useful defensive tactic in one-day cricket.

“He loves standing up to the quicker bowlers – he always says he wants his teeth knocked out so he can get a new set,” joked Collingwood.

“At Durham he always stood up to Ottis Gibson in the one-dayers. He’s good at it and as long as the bowlers give him a nod when they’re releasing the bouncer then he’s okay with it. He’s pretty fearless and he’s got great hands.”

Mustard has impressed captain Paul Collingwood standing up to the seamers Having gained considerable momentum from their stunning one-day series triumph in Sri Lanka last October, England are now determined to make an impact in an even more intense format.

The selectors packed England’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20 with specialist players from the domestic competition – Darren Maddy, Chris Schofield and James Kirtley – but they made little impression.

This time, however, Collingwood believes there is enough variety and talent in his one-day squad to cope with the Twenty20 format and provide them with an early lift prior to the five-match one-day series.

“Bringing five new players into the side disrupted us a little bit and it’s fair to say we need to adapt to that form of the game, but I think we’ve got the players here who can play Twenty20 cricket and do well at it,” he said.

In order to do that, though, England are going to have to assess the conditions well and weigh up whether it is worth the risk going in with off-spinner Graeme Swann on the smaller grounds.

Collingwood added: “It’s another thing we’re going to have to analyse when we see the grounds.

“It’s going to be difficult if we can only bring him on at one end but it’s another thing that comes into the equation.

“There are pretty small grounds but spinners have always done well in Twenty20 cricket so it’s a hard one to get right.”