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After Hitting a career-high 190, Daryl Mitchell is Unfazed by a Change in Fortune

Trent Boult’s record bids for top billing despite two lost catches.

With apologies to Rudyard Kipling, if you can meet with success and failure and treat them equally, then your name is Daryl Mitchell.

Mitchell’s reaction to a day in which he scored his best first-class score and dropped two catches at first slip late in the day can only be described as “reasonable.”

Of course, the highest first-class score was essentially a success. But if missing out on a maiden double-hundred by only ten runs tainted the experience?

Not in the least

“To be honest, a double-hundred doesn’t mean much to me personally; it was just wonderful to contribute to a score that could help us win a Test match,” he remarked. “Anything over a hundred is very good, so I was just trying to do my best for the team, and batting with [Trent] Boulty at the end there is always good fun, he always offers a bit of entertainment.”

We’ll get to that entertainment later, but first, the two missed opportunities, which must have hurt a little. When Mitchell shelled a fairly standard edge off Tim Southee, Alex Lees was on 12. He then dropped Ollie Pope, who was on 41 at the time, off the bowling of Boult near the end of play.

England could have finished the day three down, with less than 90 points on the board and a significant deficit to contend with the next day. Nope.

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“I believe that is the nature of the game; anybody who has ever played cricket has dropped a catch,” he reasoned. “I can’t control what’s happening right now, so all I can do is focus on the next one and take it.

—#cricinfo insert object id: 1319512 alt id: 4 type: image lead Notwithstanding England’s short-ball tactics, Mitchell was strong on the pull size: 900 —>

“It’s just a cricket match. I probably catch the first one nine times out of ten, and the second is a response catch that either sticks or doesn’t.

For me, I’ve trained to play Test cricket and play five days a week while working full-time, so it’s just the nature of the game.

“We created some opportunities tonight, which bodes well for tomorrow. We’ll have the best opportunity of taking ten wickets this innings and perhaps another ten the following if we can keep applying pressure, backing up spells, and asking questions of the English batters around off stump.

It’s exciting for us; we’re looking forward to it, and we’re confident that if we do the right thing long enough, we’ll reap the benefits.”

Mitchell’s calm demeanour helped him get through another day of near-perfect batting. A quick outfield and a decent pitch have helped, but England has struggled for two Tests in a row to find ways to not only get him out, but also to limit his scoring rate: his 311 runs in the series have come at a strike rate of just under 56.

They tried again today, putting his patience to the test with a traditional off-stump line in the morning. They tried bowling short to him later in the day, but there’s enough evidence to suggest that neither will dismiss him frequently or prevent him from scoring.

It’s the nature of Test cricket that there are always little moments you have to keep trying to get through, whether it’s trying to cash in to put pressure on them or absorbing them and trying to dry up the run rate “he stated.

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“But that’s one of the joys of Test cricket, and one of the reasons we enjoy it so much: the little games within the game. It felt good to get through a couple of those times and do a good job, and it was fantastic to put up a high total that allows us to be more aggressive with the ball.”

The Boult subplot brought the innings to a close. At that time, the talk was about the lower-order keeping Mitchell company until he got to his double.

But it turned out that a far more significant milestone was on the line: Boult entered his innings at No. 11 with 607 Test runs, needing 17 to pass Muthiah Muralidaran as the most prolific No. 11 in Test history.

Boult was level after four flawless boundaries before Mitchell chased and edged a wide one, missing his double and leaving Boult level. When Boult went out, he was fully conscious of the record. Mitchell, it turned out, was as well.

“Trent has spent the last two months at the IPL, and I believe he has indicated that he wants that record every day.

“It’s a fantastic achievement, in my opinion. Even though I’m sure he’ll keep going, I think he’s a great batter and I appreciate the excitement he brings to the table; it’s a lot of fun batting with him. But it’s something we’ve talked about at the IPL for the past two months over many cups of coffee. Who knows, maybe he’ll aim for the No. 10 record now.”

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