SOUTH Coast cricket representative Ben Mitchell has been clocking up the kilometres during the past year in an effort to improve his game.
The spin-bowling all-rounder and Shellharbour City skipper's persistence has culminated in selection for the Australian indigenous team, and being snapped up by Randwick to play in the Sydney grade competition this summer.
Despite being just 22, the 2012-13 South Coast Cricket Association Cricketer of the Year has earned an enviable reputation. He is currently playing in Darwin.
"I contacted the Southern Districts Cricket Club in Darwin with the plan of trying to make the Northern Territory team, as I thought it might be a good way of breaking into the 'system', and was rapt when they invited me to come up," Mitchell said.
"I was a bit blown away by the reception as they provided me with a place to stay and a car - I didn't have to worry about a thing.
"As well as playing grade, I am part of a program they are running in the Northern Territory where they are trying to encourage young Aboriginal kids to play cricket, and played in a charity game a few weeks ago between a young indigenous side and an older one.
"The competition in Darwin is pretty strong, although most teams lack a bit of depth.
"The wickets are extremely flat.
"Thankfully they do turn a bit, as I am currently running second on the leading wickets table - 300 is a par score and we have had 400 put on us twice."
His representative honours have included an appearance for NSW in the Imparja Cup in Alice Springs, where the Blues lost the final to Western Australia, but which eventually led to his inclusion in an extended 23-man national squad.
"They selected the squad and then appointed coaches to monitor the progress of the players from each state for around six weeks, and from there the final squad of 14 was announced.
"I am so proud to be picked and can't wait to pull on my country's colours for the tournament."
Mitchell said this was the pinnacle of indigenous cricket each year and he was honoured to be involved.
"The side is pretty strong and includes NSW all-rounder Josh Naylor and last year's Indigenous Player of the Year, Nathan Price from Randwick.
"We are playing United Arab Emirates, who have already qualified for next year's World Cup; Papua New Guinea, and the Northern Territory from September 12-20 in Darwin in 50-over format, which is probably a bit more friendly to left-arm spinners.
"I am also a member of the Northern Territory state side, and the week after the indigenous games we will be playing in the South Australian premier league. (This includes) games against Adelaide Strikers and a three-game series against Perth Scorchers as they warm up for the Big Bash. I'm also hopeful of playing against the South Australian Sheffield Shield side, where I might get to play against former Warilla Sports team-mate Adam Zampa."