Dawson: We must cope without ‘genius’ Macca

Neil McKenzie, left, leaves the field with Dimi Mascarenhas after inspiring a brilliant win over Nottinghamshire in 2012. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
Neil McKenzie, left, leaves the field with Dimi Mascarenhas after inspiring a brilliant win over Nottinghamshire in 2012. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
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Liam Dawson is ready to attempt to fill the void vacated by the t20 ‘genius’ of Neil McKenzie.

The South African veteran turned down the chance to return to the Ageas Bowl again this season after four consecutive years with the club.

He played an instrumental role in their two t20 title successes and was involved in all four finals days appearances.

But ahead of tonight’s Natwest T20 Blast opener against Glamorgan at the Ageas Bowl, Hampshire must start a new era and make do without both McKenzie and former skipper Dimi Mascarenhas as James Vince takes the reins as captain for the first time in his Hampshire career.

Dawson is ready to grasp his opportunity to take more responsibility in his expected pivotal role in the middle order with big-hitting Australian Glenn Maxwell set to arrive in the next few weeks.

Dawson said: ‘Macca was a genius.

‘There were so many times we looked like we weren’t going to win the game but then we did because he was there at the end to finish it off.

‘I think we have learned a lot from him, though.

‘He is a great bloke and if you can’t learn from players like him, then you are not going to get very far in sport.

‘There is no Dimi Mascarenhas this year either, which is obviously a blow.

‘But we have learnt from those guys for five or six years and someone will fill their boots so we can continue to be successful as a club.

‘I certainly see myself having a bit more responsibility this year.’

The 24-year-old’s own t20 batting record is modest in comparison to McKenzie, mainly down to the fact he has often been used much further down the order when the work has often been done by those ahead of him.

McKenzie averages 35.75 to Dawson’s 12.22 and the former South Africa Test player struck an impressive nine half-centuries in his 49 t20 matches for the club.

With a top score of 89 not out against Gloucestershire in 2011, perhaps his most memorable knock was a fabulous unbeaten 79 in the quarter-final win at Nottinghamshire in 2012, where he almost single-handedly dragged the team to victory from a hopeless position.

It meant the side were in a position to go on to claim their second title at Cardiff.

Dawson made his top t20 score of 30 in that same game at Trent Bridge but believes he has picked up some vital information along the way.

He said: ‘That is one of the big things we have learned as a group.

‘If you take the game deep and take it to the last couple of overs, you have got a massive chance of winning the game and Macca always tried to do that.

‘I think we have proven over the past six years that we are up there as one of the best sides in the country.

‘We are all a year older and have another year’s experience so hopefully we will have a good t20 campaign again.’

The Hampshire man also believes the spread of t20 fixtures this season will make it a harder challenge for any team to reach finals day at Edgbaston.

He said: ‘It’s tough to do but we know the schedule and the teams that adapt to that the quickest, will be successful.

‘It’s obviously a lot harder to prepare this year going from different format to different format.

‘But we’ve just got to get on with it.’