A Maelstrom of Mitchells – A Bird Watcher’s Guide to Australia vs New Zealand

Like a flock of seagulls fighting for a hot chip on the beach, a maelstrom of Mitchells will descend upon Edgbaston today in a pivotal Champions Trophy battle of the Antipodes.

There must be something in the water Down Under that conspires to produce so many strapping specimens on a single arena – tall, muscular young men who have a fondness for hitting the ball hard (well at least in the Australian genus) and in thundering to the wicket to deliver a white Duke ball at breakneck speed.

For the non-ornithologists among you (and I fancy that is the vast majority) I have put together a bird watchers guide to the big clash, in which one or all of the Mitchells will play a leading role.

Mitchell Johnson (Mitch Radarless)

Mitch Radarless

Mitch Radarless

The oldest and most well-known of the genus, the Johnson hails from Australia’s northern climes and features a unique colouring down its left wing, commonly referred to as a sleeve.

With its dazzling and ever-changing plumage, ranging in appearance from 1920s Underbelly gangster to its current morphing as something resembling a Major Mitchell cockatoo, the Johnson is capable of destructive bursts of brilliance intermingled with astounding periods of ineptitude.

The beauty of this talismanic and unique creature lies in such flights of fancy, the watcher never knowing quite which of its enigmatic personalities it will display during its mating dances with the batsman.

Mitchell Starc (Mitch Swingerus)

Mitch Swingerus

Mitch Swingerus

Another supremely talented, yet slightly erratic bird, the Starc has recently been discovered among the urban sprawl of Australia’s largest city.Tall and angular, the Starc has a unique mating ritual with the batsman that relies upon his ability to curve the white Duke ball with searing pace in order to capture their scalp.

However, when conditions, form and fitness shear the Starc of its armoury it transforms into a rather less terrifying proposition, its mating advances quickly spurned and dispatched to all parts of the oval.

Mitchell Marsh (Mitch Loveadrinkus)

Mitch Loveadrinkus

Mitch Loveadrinkus

The most recently discovered of the Australian genus, this young bird from the nation’s western regions is a querulous specimen, prone to erratic bouts of behaviour around watering holes that have somewhat stunted its growth and development.

Yet despite these struggles, the Marsh remains a bird of great intrigue to the watcher with its occasional displays of potential, reminiscent of the greatly beloved aerialist Keith Miller.

Mitchell McClenaghan (Mitch Kiwius)

Mitch Kiwius

Mitch Kiwius

The sole representative of the New Zealand genus, the McClenaghan shares more than a passing resemblance to the Watto with its neatly arranged plumage and muscular carriage.

The Australian Watto

The Australian Watto

Like a comet streaking across the a night sky, the McClenaghan has quickly established itself as a favourite of the keen ornithologist with a series of eye-catching mating dances with the batsman that have produced a string of conquests at a strike rate superior to anyone this calendar year.

In the aftermath of their abject showing against England it would be easy to dismiss the chances of the Australians in this match, particularly in light of the Kiwis series victory over those same opponents just prior to the start of the tournament.

I for one don’t share such a view. Facing certain extinction with a loss in this match, I am predicting an emphatic response from Australia’s cornered birds, and as a keen student of their behaviour patterns, I believe it will be the Starc and the Johnson leading the way with their pace and one-two combination of swing and seam.

Naturally their efforts may amount to little should the brittle Australian batting line up fail to resist the temptations of the McClenaghan during the early mating dance.

It will be an intriguing battle, but one in which I am backing the Watto to triumph as the cornerstone of a hard-fought victory.

Of course as any keen student of the avian world would know, predicting the future behaviour of such flighty and exotic creatures is not always an exact science, but I do know one thing for certain, and that is the feathers will be flying during an epic battle for bragging rights and survival.


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