Middlesex captain Neil Dexter is blaming, in part at least, the manic fixture list for his side’s Jekyll and Hyde performances in four-day and one-day cricket.
Second in the County Championship’s Division Two and second in the Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A with admirable playing records, the Panthers are miserable potential wooden spoonists when it comes to the Friends Life t20 South Group.
Under Dexter’s leadership Middlesex have so far won only twice in 10 starts – this after strengthening their one-day unit with the capture of Ryan McLaren, the South African all-rounder who won the 2007 Twenty20 Cup title with Kent.
Commenting on a schedule that saw Middlesex take on Kent in four-day cricket at Lord’s the day after the same sides had clashed in t20 in Canterbury, Dexter said: “I try not to look too far ahead in life, but when you see the fixtures at the start of the season you can’t help but be disappointed at seeing four-day games sprinkled in amongst t20 matches.
“You see that and think ‘Oh no, not again’. Someone like Corey Collymore needs to rest, you cannot keep playing him regardless. He’s had a few niggles and with so much cricket you can’t afford to keep him on the park day-in, day-out at his age. You have to manage him properly and if you don’t it will all catch up on you.
“I got home from the game against Kent at 1.20am, and I couldn’t sleep well then because I was still full of adrenalin. So you have a restless night and then have to get up to play the same side at noon the next day. It doesn’t make sense and the extra hour makes absolutely no difference.
“I don’t want to go on about it or sound like the only one who’s moaning, but something has to be done and I’m hopeful it will be, if only for the safety of the players and maintaining the standards of all types of cricket if nothing else.”
And as for his side’s below par showing in the short form game in particular, Dexter remains somewhat bemused. “It’s a hard one to put your finger on why we’ve been so poor in t20 but I’d say there were only two of those games in which we were badly out-played,” added Dexter.
“Twenty20 is a big game in terms of momentum and we lost that from the off. Once you do that your game’s bust so to speak. To the outsider it probably appears as though we’re just focussing on four-day cricket, but that’s not the case.
“I know we have a strong team on paper, but you counter that with the fact that it’s such a strong group, led by Somerset. You look at their side on paper and it’s magnificent, yet we beat them on their ground. That’s how strange a game t20 can be.
“To be fair, we have also been missing some key players. It was our decision to rest some of our frontline bowlers for t20, but then Dawid Malan missed a few games, Gareth Berg has been injured for weeks and not having Eoin Morgan around doesn’t help either. They’re not excuses, just the facts, but it is also fair to say teams have performed better than us on occasions.”