Middlesex captain Dexter: Our rivals know we’re dangerous
Neil Dexter expects Middlesex’s one-day rivals to be wary of them after a three-match winning streak propelled the Panthers back into YB40 semi-final contention.
Dexter’s side have narrowly missed out on the knockout stages of the 40-over competition in each of the last two seasons – and their hopes of amending that record looked slim after taking just one point from three Group C matches.
But the Panthers have since recorded consecutive wins over Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Somerset – and they go into the second half of the group programme just two points behind leaders Gloucestershire.
“We’ve kept ourselves in it – we definitely are in a good position now,” said the Middlesex captain. “Other teams are going to be looking at us and thinking we’re dangerous, which is what we want.
“We actually played some good cricket in those early games, but we’ve learnt as well and everything’s clicked now with the ball and the bat. I think we’ve proved we’re a good team.
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“Getting close in the last couple of years has been disappointing, but we’ve certainly got better in the one-day stuff as we’ve gone along and that’s starting to show.
“Three wins have put us back in contention and momentum is a big thing, but we’re playing some good cricket too and I feel we’re in a good place at the moment.
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“Hopefully that can continue and, once we get more confidence and belief that we can beat the best teams in this competition, we’ll go a long way with that.”
In each of their victories, the Panthers have fielded first and successfully restricted their opponents’ totals before chasing them down with sizeable contributions from top-order batsmen.
Dawid Malan came agonisingly close to hitting a century in all three wins, while opening partner Paul Stirling smashed an undefeated ton in the Leicestershire game and Adam Rossington racked up 79 not out against Yorkshire.
And it was the captain himself who saw his side across the line against Somerset with an unbeaten 39 after the Panthers’ run chase had seemed to be grinding to a halt.
“The important thing is it’s not just one person winning games – we’re playing as a team and when guys have failed, others have stepped up,” added Dexter.
“The way the game’s changing, batsmen are coming in a lot harder up front, so I think to restrict teams to the totals we have done has been exceptional.
“Obviously the run chases have been brilliant with Malan and Stirling opening the batting. They’re playing with a bit of freedom and that’s set the tone.
“Over the last three games guys have pretty much batted through and I think that’s the key – once someone gets in he’s got to go big and we’ve done that well so far.”
The Panthers’ next two group fixtures are against the bottom two teams in Group C – they take on Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley a week today (Thursday) and then meet Unicorns at Southend three days later.
Middlesex were denied victory over Sussex in the County Championship at the weekend as the league leaders staged a great escape at Lord’s.
Sussex began the final day on 228-4, still 49 runs behind after being forced to follow on, but Luke Wright hit a career-best 187 as the visitors posted 454 in their second innings.
Middlesex, who sit second in the table, are currently in County Championship action against Yorkshire at Lord’s.