All-rounder says Middlesex Panthers have plenty of time to recover

Middlesex all-rounder Steven Crook insists it is too soon to write the Panthers off despite heavy defeats in their first two t20 games.

The Panthers, who take on Essex Eagles at Lord’s on Thursday night (6.15pm), are still searching for their first point in the competition after losing to both Glamorgan and Somerset last weekend.

But Crook, who came into the line-up for both games after Gareth Berg’s dislocated finger ruled him out until the end of July, sees no reason why Middlesex should not still reach the knockout stages.

“There are still 14 games left and that’s plenty of time to make up ground,” the 28-year-old Australian told the Times. “Eight or 10 wins tends to get you near the top of the group.

“It’s important to peak at the right time. When I was at Northamptonshire we won our first six games in a row, then we lost something like the next six and we ended up only just getting through.

“There’s certainly no need to panic because we’ve lost a couple of games. I don’t think we’re far away from where we need to be and hopefully we can show that in the next two games.

“We’ve come up against two teams who have played particularly well with the bat, but we’ve actually batted pretty well ourselves – at Somerset we got up to nearly 200.

Most Read

“The South group is very strong – just look at the teams in there, it’s really competitive and anyone can beat anyone else. I think the standard has certainly come on since I first played in t20.”

Crook’s first taste of t20 cricket came with Lancashire Lightning in 2003 and he then moved on to Northamptonshire, but left the county following a string of injuries in 2009.

He signed a one-year contract at Lord’s earlier this year, but had found his first-team opportunities limited until Berg sustained his injury in the recent County Championship game at Essex.

“Obviously having Bergy out is a major blow for us – he’s a big influence on the team,” added Crook. “As a unit we’ve got to step up in his absence.

“To be honest I’d hoped to be playing anyway during this period of t20s. As the season goes on you get players injured or called up for England duty, so the squad becomes more important.

“I’m trying to focus on each day and each ball and when the opportunity comes you have to take it. This is a fantastic place to play, the coaching set-up is excellent and the buzz and belief is there.

“I genuinely believe we’ll be up there challenging in all competitions come the end of the season – and, if the opportunity came along to stay at Middlesex for longer, I’d snap their hands off.”