Matt Mason has hailed the fitness record of Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell who is set to return to LV = County Championship action in Friday's Division One clash with Somerset at Taunton.
Mitchell's proud run of 68 successive appearances in the LV = CC spanning four and a half years ended when he missed the home game against Nottinghamshire with his well documented hamstring injury.
It was testament to his determination – and work with the County's medical team – that he was able to return to action after just 10 days in last Friday's NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final with Hampshire.
Now the 31-year-old is back for the final quarter of the LV = CC programme in the battle for top flight survival along with Somerset, Sussex and Hampshire.
Assistant coach Mason said: "Because Mitch is your leader, it is great we have that longevity when it comes to playing games. We don't want him missing games. He is the club's leader, he is a fabulous player, his runs are invaluable at the top of the order.
"It is a credit to his fitness. He does work harder than just about anyone on his fitness because he is getting that bit older and recognises he has to keep working hard.
"That is one of the reasons he has kept playing as long as he has without any injuries."
Mason also praised the way Mitchell fought his way through a challenging start to the season after finishing the second highest scorer in the Division Two promotion campaign.
He said: "Obviously the start of this season was tough for him but one thing you can't question about Mitch is his character.
"You know he is going to come back at some point – and he always does. Everyone goes through lean periods and as long as you are strong mentally, as Mitch is, then you can come back from them.
"A lot of people who would have had that start would have gone the other way and found themselves in further trouble, maybe playing second team cricket, but not Mitch, he is a real scrapper and fighter."
Worcestershire are two points above the bottom two with matches against Somerset and Durham (away) and Sussex and Middlesex (home) left to play.
Mason said: "It is really important that we are in with a chance because I couldn't think of anything worse than having to finish the season, knowing your fate, that you are already going down.
"That will keep the guys motivated so when they are starting to get a little tired and things are tough, that carrot will be dangled in front of them.
"Survival will be a good thing and in the past we've managed it. The guys desperately want to stay in this division. They all believe they are good enough, as do we.
"They will be so much better for the experience and if we can hang in there, it will be a great effort. "