Middlesex never lost belief despite run of defeats, says Dexter
- Credit: Archant
Neil Dexter says the spirit and belief in the Middlesex camp never dipped during their recent five-match losing streak in all competitions.
The Lord’s side followed their County Championship loss to Yorkshire with successive defeats in the NatWest T20 Blast and another two at the start of the Royal London Cup.
Those last two results raised fears that the Panthers’ hopes of progress in the 50-over tournament could disintegrate in similar fashion to their T20 campaign.
But they stopped the rot with a six-wicket success in their next group tie against Surrey, thanks to an unbroken partnership of 166 between Dexter and skipper Eoin Morgan, who blazed 128 not out from just 86 balls.
“We needed a win,” said Dexter. “It had been a tough time for us, especially losing the last few games on the bounce, with not much rest in between.
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“It was never going to be easy but Morgy said before the game that, as long as we stuck to what we’d been doing and kept the belief that we could win games, it would happen and it would turn for us.
“The good thing with our dressing-room is that everyone gets each other, and I must admit with some other dressing-rooms, when you’re having such a bad run, you see guys throwing comments towards each other.
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“Although we’d been losing games, we had some good positive chats and everyone was trying their hardest. We didn’t lose games through any lack of trying.”
Middlesex struggled to build partnerships at the crease during their first two Royal London Cup games, against Glamorgan and Warwickshire – a problem that appeared to be rearing its head again in the Surrey match.
Chasing the visitors’ total of 286-6, the Panthers were in trouble at 126-4 when Dexter joined his captain at the wicket, but his supporting knock of 47 not out helped to secure victory with five overs to spare.
And Dexter – who led Middlesex’s limited-overs side until he decided to relinquish the reins at the end of last season – was full of praise for his successor’s performance.
“Morgy’s an exceptional talent and he’s great to bat with,” added Dexter. “Personally I haven’t been in the form I’d like – it’s just started to feel a lot better and he took a lot of the pressure off me.
“I was the one that was probably meant to be taking the pressure off him, but that very positive, risk-free cricket is his natural way of playing, and that innings just showed the class of the man.
“Previously we’ve got partnerships going but lost wickets at crucial times – especially against Warwickshire, when we were in such a good position and should have beaten them. This time everything just clicked.
“We knew that, if we were both there towards the last 10 overs and kept knocking the ball around at six an over, that’d keep us in the game.
“Obviously the fielding side then start losing a bit of hope – if you’re taking wickets, you’ve always got the belief you can win the game.
“It’s still early days but we’re back in the competition and there are a lot of positives to take from this.”
Middlesex’s next 50-over fixture is on Thursday against Somerset at Lord’s (10.30am). The Panthers will be without pace bowler Steven Finn, who was recalled to the England squad for the fourth Test against India, also starting on Thursday in Manchester.