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Malan: Panthers must find their fighting spirit

PUBLISHED: 18:12 11 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 07 September 2010

MIDDLESEX must change their mindset quickly if they are to avoid another barren season in 2011, according to batsman Dawid Malan. The Panthers faint hopes of success this season were effectively ended on Sunday when they suffered their third straight def

MIDDLESEX must change their mindset quickly if they are to avoid another barren season in 2011, according to batsman Dawid Malan.

The Panthers' faint hopes of success this season were effectively ended on Sunday when they suffered their third straight defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40-over competition.

The county's final-over defeat by Gloucestershire means they now have nothing to play for, apart from striving to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom in the County Championship.

"We got relegated four years ago and since then there's been a rut - we've got that same mindset over and over again," Malan (pictured) told the Ham & High.

"Even if we don't perform as well as we should, at least it should be a consistent performance. We either bowl badly and bat well, or bat badly and bowl well.

"No-one knows what to do to win at the moment. We haven't got that fighting instinct and sooner or later we're going to have to find it, otherwise we'll need some drastic changes.

"Any team that has set positions can't be a healthy team. There's a lot of pressure coming from the second team and if we aren't scoring runs, we won't play.

"Neil Dexter's going to be a great captain and hopefully he'll be able to instil a different approach into us. Whether it comes the end of this year or the beginning of next year, it's going to click sooner or later."

Middlesex's failings were highlighted on Sunday when they were beaten at Cheltenham despite racking up a colossal 299-8 from their 40 overs, with Owais Shah hitting 111 and John Simpson 82.

But, with the exception of Pedro Collins (2-33), the Panthers' bowlers all took some punishment and tailender Jon Lewis hammered 20 off the final over from Tim Murtagh to complete a three-wicket victory.

That followed a one-sided contest at Lord's three days earlier when, although Simpson contributed 48, Middlesex never looked remotely like threatening Northamptonshire's total of 264-5 and went down by 49 runs.

"We were in a position to do something in this competition, but we need to manipulate the field better," Malan admitted.

"The best players can hit dot balls and turn them into singles, they have that knowhow.

"There are no excuses - the only thing is that, apart from Owais, there aren't really many people in our team that have played a lot of 40 and 50-over cricket.

"There's a bit of inexperience when it comes to learning to chase well or set scores.

"We've let the rate slip up above eight an over and people start looking too far ahead and throw their wickets away.

"I know it's a cliché but that comes with experience. The more one-day cricket you play, the better you get at it and we've got to pick ourselves up - that's how it's been all season.

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