Daryl Mitchell admitted having a moment when he feared the worst about his T20 World Cup prospects after fracturing his finger just weeks before the tournament, but he is confident ahead of his return to New Zealand’s middle order against Sri Lanka at the SCG.
Mitchell suffered the blow while batting in the nets before the tri-series involving Bangladesh and Pakistan in Christchurch. However, after being assessed it was decided to retain him in the squad having been assured he would be ready for the second game – the rain in Melbourne has now pushed that a few days later – and though the injury is not quite completely healed, it won’t impede him.
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“When you are sitting in the X-ray room and you see a fracture in your hand, you think that’s probably the World Cup done,” Mitchell told ESPNcricinfo. “But we are really lucky that where the fracture is and the specialist gave us the timeframe to be back for game two, so it’s all gone to plan and just looking forward to getting out there now.”
Mitchell took on the opening role in the last T20 World Cup after a last-minute change of tactics from New Zealand and carried them into the final with a brilliant, unbeaten 72 off 47 against England. This year, however, he has returned to the middle order, which is the position he will slot into – in place of Mark Chapman – at the SCG.
It’s where the majority of his T20 cricket has been played, but like Matthew Wade for Australia, his versatility is a huge asset should it be required. It’s the variety of situations thrown up by being in the middle order that he most thrives off.
“That’s one of my skillsets, I guess, to be adaptable to different positions,” he said. “It comes down to my personality in some ways, I’m a competitor, I just want to get stuck into whatever role I’ve been given and try to win games. Whether that means batting one, or wherever else, I’ll happily do it with a smile on my face.
“I really enjoyed opening… but this role, the [No.] 5 position, it’s never the same, which is quite a cool challenge in that there are some sticky situations you have to come into and there’s also some fun times as well.”
Earlier this year Mitchell enjoyed a spectacular run of form in the Tests against England where he scored 538 runs, the most by a New Zealander in a three-match series, including three centuries. While the format is vastly different to the challenge he will face over the next couple of weeks, there is an overall mantra that Mitchell has for his cricket about not trying to overburden himself.
“I look back [on the England series] and it’s a culmination of a long time of learning your craft,” he said. “How you want to go about things, finding ways to succeed, then going through some phases to get to that position. For me, it’s about not trying too hard, remembering it is a game we play, and we are very lucky to be able to do it. If you keep enjoying the game, hopefully some success will come.”