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Mitchell grounded as Royal history beckons

Worcestershire CCC

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Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell is refusing to look too far ahead as his side close in on qualification for the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals.

The Royals currently top the Midlands/Wales/West Group and can move two points clear of nearest rivals Somerset and Warwickshire with victory at Gloucestershire tonight in their eighth fixture of 10.

Along with Derbyshire and Yorkshire, Worcestershire are one of only three teams never to have reached Twenty20 finals day since the inception of the competition in 2003.

Mitchell is understandably excited by the possibility of breaking that duck, but insists full focus must be applied to their final three group games, with home matches against Northamptonshire and Somerset to follow this evening's encounter.

Phil Hughes

Worcestershire will look for batsman Phil Hughes to continue his excellent form as they bid to reach the FLt20 quarter-final stage

"It's an old cliché, but we've taken every game as it comes so far and we will continue to do that," Mitchell told ecb.co.uk.

"We'll see where that takes us come Sunday night when the group stage has finished.

"Our goal at the start of the year was to get out of the group - and if you achieve that you are only one game away from finals day, two games away from the Champions League and three games away from winning it.

"We need to focus on getting out of the group first and foremost and then once we've done that we can attack that quarter-final and then hopefully finals day. We've never made finals day as a club, so it would be a huge achievement for us if we could do that, but there's a long way to go yet."

Although numerous players have contributed to Worcestershire's success in the shortest form this year, their standout performer has undoubtedly been overseas star Phil Hughes.

The 23-year-old Australian batsman has scored 269 runs in five innings, at an average of 90 and a strike-rate of 134.

"He's a world-class performer and he's fitted into the team very well," said Mitchell.

"He's only been here a matter of weeks and it already seems like he's been here forever. He's a great lad and he's done the business on the field for us, in this competition but also in the CB40 before - he got a couple of hundreds in that as well.

"You never really know exactly what you're going to get from an overseas player. Obviously Phil comes with a big reputation and has done well in Australian domestic cricket, but you never know how people are going to settle in to a different environment. Phil has hit the ground running perfectly and he's been a great asset."

Daryl Mitchell

Worcestershire captain Daryl Mitchell remains confident his side can use their FLt20 form to turn around their fortunes in the LV= CC

Worcestershire will hope they can maintain their momentum when they return to LV= County Championship action next week.

A home clash with Durham, the only other winless team in Division One, represents a vital game in both teams' battle for survival.

"Winning and doing well breeds confidence no matter what format you are playing. Hopefully we can finish the group stage strongly and take that into the four-day game," Mitchell reasoned.

"I don't think we've played badly in the four-day stuff at all, six out of the seven games we have played we have lost at least a day to weather and one of the two games we lost was a set-up on the final day and (Middlesex paceman) Steven Finn bowled us out, so there's certainly been no disgrace in any of our performances.

"We can take a lot of confidence from the good stuff we did in the pre-Twenty20 period and the momentum from being successful in the Twenty20."

Durham have recently opted for a leadership change, which will see Paul Collingwood take over the championship captaincy from Phil Mustard.

"I'm not sure how much of difference that will make," Mitchell added. "Phil Mustard is an extremely experienced cricketer and a good leader, and likewise Paul Collingwood.

"It might give them a boost but I can't see it making too much of a difference. The personnel will be much the same.

"They have always been a good side, they have struggled in the first half of the season but I expect them to be much improved in the second half."

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