June 19 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Club captain Neil Dexter is convinced Middlesex are on course to become a good Twenty20 side despite narrowly avoiding their second successive wooden spoon.
The Panthers won just three of their 10 Friends Life t20 games – all away from home – and finished fifth in the six-team South Group, just ahead of Surrey on run-rate.
But that did represent an improvement on their 2011 record – and the skipper cites the strides made by Middlesex in the four-day game during recent years as proof of grounds for optimism in Twenty20 too.
“There are positives that have come out towards the end of this,” Dexter told london24.com. “I think we are moving in the right direction – it was the same in Championship cricket.
“We were moving in the right direction for quite a while and I knew, once we’d started playing some good cricket and got into Division One, we’d compete well.
“In Twenty20, there are areas where we need to strengthen – sometimes we do go wrong at the death and when we’ve taken three or four wickets early on, we don’t finish teams off.
“We weren’t disgraceful, but we’ve been short in most games by similar small margins, which is frustrating. It’s about finding a way to get past that gap of 10 or 15 runs or a few wickets.”
The Panthers’ chances of t20 success always looked slim after the late withdrawal of their second overseas signing, Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga, as well as international calls for other key players such as Eoin Morgan, Paul Stirling and Steven Finn.
Yet their absences handed opportunities to fringe members of the squad, particularly youngsters such as Ollie Wilkin – who played a key role in the Panthers’ one-wicket win at Surrey last week – and Adam Rossington.
“Sometimes you need a skilful guy like Malinga,” admitted Dexter. “He would have been a big signing and that was a bit of a blow for us before the tournament started.
“But guys who maybe hadn’t expected to play have come in and done well. Steven Crook showed how athletic he is, getting run-outs off his own bowling against Essex and Kent, and he did well with the bat too.
“I think Ollie Wilkin was pretty unknown to a lot of people, but he’s got something about him. He’s quite a confident boy and a talented cricketer too.
“People like Rossington and Tom Scollay have shown what they can do as well – they’ve got a lot of potential and the more games they play the smarter their cricket will get.
“Stirlo is as good as any player in the world, the way he strikes the ball, and the Surrey game showed that if we are positive and bat with intent, we can chase down most totals.”