|Date: November 9 Hour: 08:00 GMT Place: Sydney|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, special commentary on the BBC Sport website and app; live text commentary clips on the BBC Sport website and app|
New Zealander Daryl Mitchell is a jack of all trades and owner.
A latecomer to the international game, the 31-year-old made his international debut in 2019 after playing more than 200 games in New Zealand’s domestic system, where he is only seven months into his contract.
He is now gearing up for his second T20 World Cup semi-final in as many years, when New Zealand take on Pakistan in Sydney on Wednesday.
It’s been almost a year since they beat England in Abu Dhabi, largely thanks to Mitchell’s unbeaten 72 off 47 balls.
“The nature of New Zealand’s small population,” Mitchell explains, “the fact that domestic cricket is seven-month contracts and the other five months gives you options in the winter if you want to go overseas and play or do other things outside of cricket, I think that’s really important.” .
The domestic game in New Zealand only became professional in 2005.
It was a move that would not have allowed players like Mitchell to slip through the cracks as they were able to stay in the game rather than being forced to seek alternative employment.
In 2021, Mitchell received a central contract with New Zealand Cricket, marking the first time he was officially a cricketer for the 12 months of the year.
“As you get closer to the New Zealand set-up, you’ve got A tours and things like that to keep playing,” Mitchell said.
“But I think it’s important to have a balance outside of the game as well, that allows you to see that there is more to life than a game that has a bit of wood and a bit of leather.”
During his domestic career, Mitchell’s five months of the year away from the sport were just as important to him as the seven months.
When he played for the Northern Districts for the first time in 2012, aged 20, he was completing a degree in exercise and sports science.
Most recently, he worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Waikato Rugby from 2018 to 2020, returning to the club where it all started.
Mitchell’s father is former All Black John, who was playing for Waikato when Daryl was born.
The combination of a decade of hard work to reach the international game coupled with an off-season spent working away from the sport has given Mitchell the ability to recognize the honor of playing international cricket, while at the same time appreciating the sport in its wider global context. .
“For me, any opportunity to play for New Zealand is special and I want to have that fern on my chest and be proud to represent my country,” Mitchell says.
“But then again, it’s a game of cricket. And we don’t make it any bigger than that.”
Mitchell has a reputation as a man who gets things done. One of the stories of 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, having never opened the bat in T20 cricket before.
This year, he has returned to the middle order and is playing with a broken hand after taking a knock in the nets three weeks before the Kiwis’ first game.
“I would have been absolutely devastated if I had lost and I’m very lucky and grateful that the fracture where the hand is is not too painful,” added 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 represent our country on the world stage.
“Opening in the last World Cup was a very nice challenge, but at the same time batting in that top five position is also incredible.
“It’s so different every time you go out to bat. You can be three for nothing or you can fly and you have to hit the first ball for six.
“But I think one of my skills is that I’m able to adapt to different positions and different situations, and that suits my role. It doesn’t matter where I bat. I want to win cricket matches for the country.”
And on Wednesday, a year after doing exactly that against England, he will have the chance to do it again. This time against Pakistan.