The new season is still a month away but Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell has already found form and confidence after a successful stint playing first-class cricket in Zimbabwe.
Mitchell played three matches for the Mutare-based Mountaineers franchise where he and Essex batsman Mark Pettini were the two overseas professionals.
Mitchell’s first experience of first-class cricket abroad followed spells playing club cricket in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and produced a century against the Mid West Rhinos and 94 in the draw with Southern Rocks.
It also allowed him to put the revised trigger movements that he had been working on in the nets at Malvern College before Christmas to the test.
“I spent a lot of time before Christmas changing my trigger movements so it was nice to be able to go and put it into practice in a game situation and get a few runs,” Mitchell said.
“It’s helped to build confidence in my trigger movements. Instead of the double movement back and then forwards, I’ve just gone for a forward press.
“When I’ve looked at my dismissals over the last few years there always seems to be a trigger late or a trigger too big. There always seems to be little issues with my triggers when I’m not playing well in particular. So I’ve tried to simplify it. Having half the movement should take half the time.
“It was nice to get out in the middle and get some confidence. From a personal point of view I was disappointed with how I went last year. I got injured and I didn’t get a hundred which was bitterly disappointing.
“To go out to Zimbabwe and gets runs under my belt, and a big hundred as well, was really pleasing and hopefully stands me in good stead for our first game.”
Experienced county players such as Mitchell are helping to raise the standards of first-class cricket in Zimbabwe which declined alarmingly during the country’s exile from Test cricket.
“I had an enjoyable time and the standard of cricket was pretty good,” Mitchell said. “There is some good talent out there, but they just lack a bit of experience and know-how at times in their game plans and match situations.
“I don’t think they quite grasp that, which is where the overseas player come in. With the exile they have had from international cricket they have almost lost a generation.
“There are not too many players playing in their domestic format, which is the idea of bringing in the overseas players.
“I got really well looked after. I think a lot of the bad press Zimbabwe has got in terms of tourism is a bit harsh.
“I was brilliantly looked after, and the people, both involved in cricket and generally, were fantastic and friendly. I really enjoyed my time and I would definitely go back which is a telling sign really.”