WORCESTERSHIRE’S long-serving opener Daryl Mitchell “can’t wait to get started” now that the fixtures for the Bob Willis Trophy have been announced and he says the players will adapt to playing behind closed doors as a result of COVID-19.

Mitchell, the current chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, and his team-mates will travel to take on Gloucestershire at Bristol in their opening fixture beginning on Saturday.

But three of the County’s remaining four group matches will be at Blackfinch New Road including a mouth-watering derby with local rivals Warwickshire.

The four-day competition is regionalised with the top two of the three group winners going through to a final.

Mitchell said: “It’s great that the club have got three home games and for cricket to be played back on our own turf after so long will be a special feeling.

“The derby against Warwickshire always has added spice in whatever format the teams meet.

“There are four Division One teams in our group but it is a challenge we will embrace.

“It will be a different experience playing in front of no spectators and, being a keen football fan, I have watched the matches on TV with interest.

“Our fans always get behind us and there are so many friendly and supportive faces you get to know over the years.

“But the players are very professional in their approach to the game and will adapt to the challenge, and the changes brought about by COVID-19, in the same way as other sports this summer.

“Now that the fixtures are announced, there is an added buzz amongst everyone to get going with lots of cricket to play during the next two months.”

Worcestershire have extra cause to be delighted to be back playing at Blackfinch New Road after the severe winter floods had already the campaign would have begun at Kidderminster before the intervention of COVID-19.

Mitchell said: “We have had floods including the great one of 2007 which meant no cricket was played at home after June – and we ended up winning the Pro40 League.

“But to see the ground under water for week after week, month after month like it was this winter was a new experience and the ground staff have done a terrific job in getting the ground ship shape for the start of the Bob Willis Trophy.”

Mitchell, who has signed a contract extension until the end of the 2021 campaign, is looking to recapture the consistent form evident throughout the bulk of his career after all of the Worcestershire top order found last summer a challenge.

He said: “I have confidence in my ability and a record of averaging 40 in first-class cricket over many years, many of them as an opening batsman.

“Last season was a blip and a struggle for everyone with the bat and we did not get enough runs from the top order on a consistent basis.

“But there is quality there and we started red-ball training back in early November to ensure we are prepared as possible for when the season started, albeit later than we envisaged.”