|Date: November 9 Weather: 08:00 GMT Event: sydney|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app; Live text commentary with clips on the BBC Sport website and app|
Daryl Mitchell from New Zealand is a jack of all trades and master of one.
A latecomer to the international game, the 31-year-old made his international debut in 2019 after more than 200 games in the New Zealand national system, where contracts run for just seven months.
He is now preparing for his second T20 World Cup semi-final in as many years, with New Zealand taking on Pakistan in Sydney on Wednesday.
It is almost exactly a year to the day they beat England in Abu Dhabi, thanks in no small part to Mitchell’s unbeaten 72 from 47 balls.
“The nature of New Zealand’s small population,” explains Mitchell, “is that domestic cricket has seven-month contracts and the other five months give you opportunities in the winter, whether you want to go abroad and play or just do other things outside of cricket”. , which I think is really important.”
New Zealand’s national game only turned professional in 2005.
It was a move that meant players like Mitchell would not go unnoticed, as they were able to stay in the game rather than be forced to seek alternative employment.
In 2021, Mitchell was awarded a New Zealand Cricket center contract, meaning for the first time, he was officially a cricketer for all 12 months of the year.
“As you get closer to the New Zealand setup, you have A tours and things like that that keep you playing,” Mitchell said.
“But I think it’s also important to have a balance outside of the game that allows you to see that there’s more to life than a game with some wood and some leather.”
Throughout his national career, the five months out of the year that Mitchell had away from the sport were just as important to him as the seven months he did spend.
When he first played for the Northern Districts in 2012 as a 20-year-old, he was completing a bachelor’s degree in sports and exercise science.
Most recently, from 2018 to 2020 he worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Waikato Rugby, in a return to the club where it all started.
Mitchell’s father, John, is a former All Black who was playing for Waikato when Daryl was born.
The combination of a decade of hard work making it to the international game coupled with spending the off-seasons working outside of the sport has given Mitchell the ability to recognize the honor that comes with playing international cricket, while also appreciating the sport in the context of the larger world. .
“For me, any opportunity to get to play for New Zealand is really special and I just want to have that fern on my chest and be really proud to represent my country,” says Mitchell.
“But then again, it’s a cricket game. And we don’t make it bigger than it is.”
Mitchell has a reputation as a man who gets things done. One of the stories from the 2021 World Cup was his success at the top of the order, where he averaged 34.66 and had a strike rate of 140.54 without having previously opened batting in T20 cricket.
This year, he’s back in the middle order and playing through a broken hand after taking a hit in the nets just three weeks before the Kiwis’ opener.
“I would have been absolutely devastated if I had missed it and I’m very lucky and thankful that the broken hand wasn’t too painful,” adds Mitchell.
“And it’s always a good reminder that anything can happen and that we’re very lucky to be able to do what we do to be able to represent our country on the world stage.
“Starting in the last World Cup was a really cool challenge, but at the same time batting from that five position is also amazing.
“It’s so different every time you come out to bat. You can be three for nothing or you can be flying and have to hit the first ball for six.
“But I think one of my skills is that I am able to adapt to different positions and situations, and that suits my role. I don’t worry about where I bat. I just want to win cricket games for the country.” “
And on Wednesday, a year after he did exactly that against England, he will have the chance to do it again. This time against Pakistan.
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