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Olly Westbury’s guest column on Worcestershire teammate and PCA Chairman.
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Olly Westbury has recently created the ‘Opening Pear’ with the Worcestershire batsman aiming to entertain through his unique viewpoint inside the changing room.
The 22-year-old has a passion for writing and has used his time in the early stages of social distancing, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, to launch his online blog. The former England Under-19 international has already penned biographies on Jack Haynes, Charlie Morris and Ed Barnard and has turned his creative copywriting to the current PCA Chairman, Daryl Mitchell.
In a guest column on thepca.co.uk and as part of the #CreativeCricketers campaign, Westbury explains ‘Mitch’s’ passions away from the game, delves into career highlights and his favourite practical jokes…
Daryl Mitchell made his debut for Worcestershire first XI in May 2005. By the end of the 2019 campaign, ‘Mitch’ had accomplished 18 years as a professional cricketer, after originally signing in 2003. It was therefore a pretty straightforward decision to discuss his long career in my next blog.
Daryl reminisced on practical jokes of years gone by, trips to Villa Park and his very own footballing prowess…
As a character, Mitch is very level-headed which has certainly contributed to his 206 first-class appearances. Whether he scores two hundreds in a game or registers two low scores, his mentality does not seem to change. He appears to always have his house in order and does not allow the peaks and troughs of a county summer to get to him. I asked Joe Leach for a few pearls of wisdom to sum Daryl up and he described him as “one of the most dependable batters on the county circuit, and he is also incredibly well-respected as a bloke.”
“Any minor muscular injury that Mitch has seems to always conveniently recover in time for pre-match football.”
This is clearly demonstrated by his fellow professionals voting for him to be Chairman of the PCA twice. He’s served three years in the role already and is about to embark on his fourth and final year. Leachy also added “it’s difficult for him at the moment having to use FaceTime regularly as he has to sit so far away from the screen because of his abnormally large nose.” I felt that was harsh from Joe.
Away from cricket, Daryl is a very steady footballer. A holding midfielder by trade who reads the game well and puts himself about. My landlord Ed Barnard compared him to Lee Cattermole. When I passed this message onto Mitch he seemed very disappointed with Barn’s under evaluation of his footballing endeavours. Daryl insisted that he is far too accomplished on the ball to be considered of that ilk, and so it will come of no great shock to you when I tell you that he himself thinks he is a combination of Roy Keane and Lionel Messi.
He does have Roy Keane’s retro style however, with his vintage Puma Kings bought in 2008 and his knee-high Umbro socks. Daryl did tell me that the Puma Kings had to go on sabbatical when football was banned by Worcestershire’s old coach Bumpy (Steve Rhodes), but they have since seen a return to action 10 years later when Kevin Sharp reintroduced football in 2018. Any minor muscular injury that Mitch has seems to always conveniently recover in time for pre-match football. I think that’s what they call experience for you.
A lifelong Villa fan (yes another one!), Mitch always tries to find time to make the trip to Villa Park and, like teammate Jack Haynes, has enjoyed watching players such as John Carew over the last decade. Most Villa fans I know are firmly against Dean Smith after their recent cup final defeat and due to their current standing in the Premier League table. Yet Daz reassured me that he still remains a big Dean believer because of the success he brought to the club the previous summer. He is also a big fan of Jack Grealish, admitting that whilst the youngster isn’t his favourite player he has seen at Villa Park in recent years, he is probably the most talented. I must confess it is sensible logic, but he is not exactly your run-of-the-mill Villa fan.
"One thing you might not know about Daryl is that he is quite partial to a practical joke or two.”
I asked him for a few of his career highlights. Mitch replied with the Pro40 success in 2007, when Worcestershire won Division One after beating Gloucestershire by eight wickets. Having said that, Daryl admitted that he could not look past the T20 Finals Day win 2018. He explained the satisfaction and joy of winning the competition, one in which he has been participating for the last 14 years. Daryl also gave a brief mention to the six promotions he has achieved in Championship cricket – I had no idea it was that many! However, he did make me chuckle when five seconds later he said that the six relegations after the promotions somewhat took the gloss off.
One thing you might not know about Daryl is that he is quite partial to a practical joke or two. He insists that it is always in retaliation and that he needs to be provoked first. There was the time when Joe Clarke put deep heat on his back when he was having a massage from the physio. Clarkey later returned to the ground to find his car had been wrapped up in dozens of rolls of cling film. Another story involved Jack Shantry hiding Mitch’s favourite bat whilst it was raining in Taunton. On the return to New Road, Shants fell asleep and Daryl nicked his keys. When Jack finally returned home, following a short and enforced taxi journey, he was surprised to find his car on the drive and Daryl sat on his sofa with a cup of tea.
I’ll leave you with words from former teammate and now Worcestershire Assistant Coach, Alan Richardson, who describes Daryl as “stubborn, opinionated, argumentative, smart-arse and wind-up merchant, which are all absolutely perfect attributes for a quality opening batsman and professional cricketer.”
To view Westbury’s website for his blogs please click here.