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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 17:56 UK

Geoff Cook defends Durham team morale

Phil Mustard
Mustard made his first class debut for Durham in 2002

Durham coach Geoff Cook has played down fans' fears that the recent change in captaincy has highlighted tensions within the dressing room.

Phil Mustard's appointment as captain came after Will Smith was removed from the role but Cook insisted all was well at the Riverside.

"The captaincy is in the past now and it's best that it is forgotten about," he told BBC Newcastle.

"We will move on with Phil doing a good job as captain."

Sunderland-born Mustard has been a stalwart in the Durham side since making his first-class debut in 2002 and continues to be a part of the side that has dominated the county scene for the past two seasons.

And Cook is confident that Mustard has settled in well as captain and is the right man to inspire the team.

"When he first took over we said it was important that he retains his own style and character, and I think that reflects his enthusiasm and desire for the job," he added.

"People respond to that and we've played some good cricket whilst he's been skipper."


Durham's Twenty20 campaign begins against Lancashire on Friday and Cook is looking forward to welcoming back ex-Durham player Albie Morkel to the side.

"We're delighted to have Albie back," Cook said.

"He was very popular within the team when he was here two or three years ago and did a fantastic job on the pitch."

Big-hitting Kiwi Ross Taylor has also joined Durham fresh from the Indian Premier League, and Cook is excited by his potential to impress the Riverside crowd.

"It's always nice for the Durham spectators to see some world-class players, and Ross Taylor is a top-class five day player and limited over cricketer," said Cook.

"He's somebody I'm looking forward to seeing in the dressing room and seeing him play for us."

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