The boots of a retired international are always difficult to fill in a team. Even more difficult is when the position needing filling is the number four spot. More difficult still when you yourself have endured a tough season where you have been in and out of the team and floating between batting positions. It's a nigh on impossible task when the player you are filling in for is Neil McKenzie.
Dawson though seems to be able to take these punishing tasks on without much complaint. Brought into the team for the most important CC match of the season he could perhaps be forgiven if he had succumbed to the pressure of the situation. Hampshire were in a strong position when Dawson came to the crease, yes, but the innings still required a positive innings of substance that would provide impetus for the team. In an innings of 71 balls the position of strength had been transformed into a position nearing dominance, as Dawson played his way to his first 50 of the season, against let's be honest a not bad bowling attack. After Adams and Carbs set the platform, Dawson and Hughes sped things up, taking on the spinners and keeping Hampshire in front.
After Hughes' departure, Vince joined in, hitting his first 16 runs in boundaries. The most important part though was that these two saw the innings into tea without any further loss, and Dawson brought up his deserved 50 soon after the break. He was out very soon after (for 50) but his job was done. People have been critical of him, and it has been very disappointing seeing him being unable to nail down a spot in the side after his very promising debut CC 2008 season. Whether it's concentration, confidence, technique or a combination of all three and some that has caused Dawson to struggle in the side I'm not sure but for the latter part of this season it would appear that he is coming out of this dip. His innings in the CB40 at home to Leics was the Dawson of old, oozing with confidence and conviction in his shots, making it a pleasure to watch.
So the match is still carefully balanced somewhat, though Hampshire will be confident of getting enough runs in the morning quickly enough to firstly secure their position, and secondly to give enough overs in which to bowl Kent out for a win that would finalise safety. For Dawson his job isn't done yet - the pitch is taking spin so his left armers could be crucial in the hunt for the win. In terms of the next match he will have rightfully earned the number four spot again, and hopefully faith from White that he is worth very much persevering with and can become a fixture in the CC team. A good bowling performance in the fourth innings wouldn't do much harm to his cause.
2015 Cricket World Cup Champs!
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