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From a good player to a great player

Cantabrians, please tell us what is in the water in Canterbury?

What turns average to good sportspeople into superstars who move there?

There has been many a player who made the move to Christchurch, leaving behind moderate success only to join the Canterbury system and lo and behold, transform into an elevated version.

I had a theory that the 2011 earthquake that shook Christchurch resulted in residents steeling themselves to become the best they could be, but I probably need to get feedback from Cantabrians on that.

I guess it all comes down to coaches, systems and culture, but which comes first?

Does a coach become successful because of the systems or does the coach create the great systems?

I would suggest both Robbie Deans from the Crusaders and Craig Bellamy from the Melbourne Storm were coaches who needed an opportunity to stamp their influence on.

I wonder if Bellamy took note of Robbie Deans’ player management at the Crusaders. Systems and cultures were established at both clubs, leading to outsiders learning the blueprint and fitting in.

We can see this now with Brendon McCullum’s influence upon the English cricket team, where all potential English cricketers know what the standards and style are required to make the elite level.

Brendon McCullum

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

One such player to make the move to Canterbury from another New Zealand club is Daryl Mitchell, the star of the Black Caps’ series loss to England.

Born in Hamilton in 1991, Daryl Joseph Mitchell became a Northern Districts debutant in 2011 and was awarded a contract in 2018.

The all-rounder moved from Northern Districts to Canterbury in 2020 to be closer to his partner’s family and to fill a player opportunity.

The move south may or may not have had a huge influence on his career, but it has made an imprint on him and would he be the same player today without it?

The Australian influence also helped to hone his skills and attitude towards cricket.

Prior to this Mitchell had learnt the Australian way while playing for the Scarborough Cricket Club in Perth, Western Australia, as a teenager.

“Mitchell had moved to Perth from New Zealand three years earlier when his father John Mitchell was appointed the inaugural coach of the Western Force in the Super 14 Rugby competition,” Alex Malcolm wrote on ESPN Cricinfo.

Mitchell shared the clubrooms with Marcus Stoinis and Justin Langer and all three were involved in a premiership win in 2009.

Both Mitchell and Stoinis played influential roles in the final with Mitchell displaying his competitiveness in a match-winning bowling display.

Mitchell recalled both Langer and batting mentor Neil ‘Noddy’ Holder were major influences on his career.

Stoinis and Mitchell both left Perth to seek more opportunities and interestingly they faced off against each other in the T20 World Cup final in 2021.

The Australian, Northern Districts and Canterbury influences have moulded Daryl Mitchell to be the positive, daring player he has become.

He made his T20 debut in 2019 and followed that up with a Test debut versus England in November 2019 and his ODI debut in 2021.

Daryl Mitchell

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The player nicknamed ‘Moose’ was bought by the Rajasthan Royals in 2022 for the Indian Premier League. He was also signed by Middlesex for the 2021 T20 Blast.

In the recent series against England, Daryl Mitchell was the dominant batsman for the Black Caps, scoring the highest run tally for a New Zealander against England in a single series.

In Leeds he scored 109 and 56, in Nottingham he scored 190 and 62 and at Lord’s he scored 13 and 108. And in 12 Test matches, he has scored 941 runs at an average of 62.73.

Going from 95 to another century with a six typifies his positive, confident mindset and exemplifies his pure hitting down the ground.

Another six from Mitchell remarkably landed in a spectator’s beer cup, generously replaced by the Black Caps!

Daryl Mitchell is currently riding the wave of tremendous form and long may it last, as on present form the Black Caps will need him.

With his family background, mentors and lifestyle choices, he has the foundations to build a potentially lengthy and rewarding cricket career.

It is hard for a North Islander to admit, but these South Islanders really do have something!

Scott Robertson, Brendon McCullum and Daryl Mitchell to name a few.

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