Match Analysis

Daryl Mitchell proud to have stood tall for New Zealand in 'heavyweight boxing fight'

Third century of series takes batter to record-breaking territory despite series scoreline

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Daryl Mitchell celebrates his third century of the series  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Daryl Mitchell celebrates his third century of the series  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Daryl Mitchell likened New Zealand's series in England to a "heavyweight boxing fight" but finds himself on the ropes despite completing a hundred for the third successive Test on the second day at Headingley.
Mitchell's 109 followed scores of 13 and 108 at Lord's, then 190 and 62 not out at Trent Bridge in the first two Tests of the tour, giving him the highest run-tally for a New Zealander against England in a single series, even with one innings to spare.
He had two lives in the third Test, one on each of the first two days. On 8, he was trapped in front by Matthew Potts, but Marais Erasmus was unmoved and Ben Stokes opted against a review which would have overturned the decision. And after adding two runs to his overnight 78, he edged Potts towards Joe Root at slip, only for Ben Foakes to dive in front of him and spill the chance.
"It's an honour and a privilege to represent the Black Caps," Mitchell said. "I know that it sounds pretty boring, but I love playing Test cricket for my country. Any chance to wear the silver fern is a pretty special moment and for me, it's just a case of enjoying it.
"It took me a few years to get into this position and to get into this Test team, so it's about making the most of each opportunity, playing with a smile on my face and enjoying being in that changing room because it's a great bunch of boys. When individual achievements come about it's up to the work you do, but I'm just really honoured to be a part of this group."
Mitchell arrived in England a week before the first Test, leaving the IPL a few days ahead of schedule after dropping out of Rajasthan Royals' playing XI, but had not played a red-ball match for four months and would not have played at Lord's but for Henry Nicholls' positive Covid-19 test delaying his rehabilitation from a calf injury.
"That's the nature of international cricket now," he said. "You need to be able to adapt very quickly and be constantly working on different formats while you're in other ones. It's just part and parcel of playing all three formats in international cricket these days and it's a challenge that you've got to keep trying to master."
He added that New Zealand had "probably fully expected" England to play in the ultra-positive, all-guns-blazing manner they have adopted in this series following Brendon McCullum's appointment as coach, and said that they still felt as though the game was in the balance with three days to go despite Jonny Bairstow's extraordinary partnership with Jamie Overton.
"It's been a hell of a Test series," he said. "For us, there were obviously a couple of small moments in those other Tests that we lost which eventually ended up with us losing those matches. Both teams are evenly poised and it will come down to small moments over the next three days as to who is going to win this one.
"It's been the same themes throughout this whole series. As an onlooker on the sides, I reckon it would have been a hell of a game of cricket to be watching today, obviously the ebbs and flows. We linked it [sic] to a heavyweight boxing fight, the way both teams are throwing punches.
"That's the gameplan that they've come about with and we probably fully expected it with Baz taking over. I thought our bowlers did a great job there [and] it took a great knock by Jonny to put the pressure back on us.
"It was a great partnership but at the same time we've still got a lead and we know there's a lot of cricket still to be played over the next three days. If we can chip out a couple early tomorrow morning, it's game on again. We're really looking forward to it."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98