Our second guest during our series of home interviews is with 2020 Suffolk Professional, Neil Dexter. Neil played for Kent, Middlesex, Essex & Leicestershire during his career and made over 400 Professional appearances. Originally from South Africa, Neil made the move to the UK aged 19 and never looked back.
Neil, please tell us about your path to professional cricket?
I came over to the UK in 2004 to play for Sudbury Cricket Club as the overseas pro/coach. Whilst I was there a good friend of mine Matthew Dennington who was then playing for Kent gave me a call as he heard I was over. He asked me to go and watch Kent vs the West Indies at Beckenham. He said to bring my cricket kit as the next day Kent had training at Canterbury and he had spoken to Paul Farbrace about me. I had a net and Paul Farbrace then asked if I would be available to play some Kent 2nd X1 games which I did.
I played about 3 games that year. Kent wanted me to then come over in 2005 and play club cricket in the Kent league and 2nd eleven games. I had no hesitation in doing this as I saw it as a great opportunity. I was then picked in the 1st team squad to play against Nottinghamshire which was the 2nd to last game of the season and televised. This lead to me being offered a 2-year contract having scored an unbeaten 79.
From your pathway experiences, what advice would you give to any youngster trying to achieve their goal of playing professional cricket?
I am a big believer if you want to achieve something then you can. You have to want to do it though. Cricket was always my passion and being a professional cricketer is something I always wanted to be. With saying this I never put myself under too much pressure as you still have to enjoy playing the game. Not many people know this but every training session for Kent I had to walk from the top of Dover into Dover with my cricket bag and catch the train to Canterbury and back. I funded this myself as I always saw it as an opportunity of a lifetime, so it really didn’t bother me.
I did pretty well that season for Kent 2’s and Folkestone cc. If you put the hard work in and really want to achieve something, then you can do it. There are sacrifices along the way though.
Training is such a crucial aspect of playing professional cricket. Being a Batting all-rounder, how did you manage to balance training loads between batting and bowling?
I was always mainly a batsmen and I always saw the bowling as a bonus. I think what helped me with the bowling as I never put myself under too much pressure. As the years went on and the more experienced I became the more my bowling was seen as an asset. I started working on more skills as the years went on and I believe this helped massively. With saying all this I did always bowl lots in training and after as I always wanted to be better.
With Batting being your main focus, in your opinion, what are the basic principles all batsman should look to implement?
Well the first thing is to just watch the ball. This sounds basic but when you are under pressure or struggling for form this can be easily forgotten. Try and play the ball nice and late. Some coaches refer to this as playing the ball under your eyes, or in the box.
I believe always looking to be positive is the key as your body then moves better and your head will be in a better position.
Having played with and against some of the best players in the world, who would you say was the best & why?
This is a tough one, but I was fortunate enough to play with Chris Rodgers (Australian Cricketer) He was a leader within himself and was mentally very strong. He knew his limitations and would very rarely see him play a shot which was not one of his strengths.
Although the 2020 Season was hugely affected by Covid-19, how did you find your experience of playing for Suffolk CCC?
It was a tough season for all, but I was fortunate to play a few friendly games for Sufflok which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a young team with a lot of talent. The coach Andy Northcote is a great coach and likes to keep things nice and simple and very clear with his instructions which I think is vital for anyone but especially the young team it is.
Finally, what does the future hold for yourself and can we expect to see you in a Suffolk shirt during 2021?
I would say definitely if the current situation allows for it which I am being positive about and I'm sure we will be out there.
SOURCE: picture cricinfo.com