Published: 00:00, 19 September 2008
Kent may have to move into the transfer market this winter in order to bolster their batting options following Neil Dexter’s decision to quit the club and move to troubled Division 2 outfit Middlesex.
The 24-year-old South African born player was also courted by Worcestershire, Sussex and Essex, the club where he spent two months on loan earlier this summer, before deciding to turn down Kent’s offer of a three-year contract in favour of a move to St John’s Wood.
In a statement released through his agent and former Kent captain, David Fulton, Dexter said: “After a lot of deliberation I have made the tough decision to pursue my cricket career elsewhere.
“The last two seasons at Kent have been incredibly frustrating and I feel a fresh start at a new county will give me greater opportunity to establish myself as a first team player in all forms of the game.
“I would like to thank my team-mates, the supporters and the many friends I’ve made at the club and I wish Kent every success in the future.”
Dexter played only 29 first-class games in his four seasons at Canterbury after being recommended to the county by their former all-rounder Matt Dennington, who played club cricket with Dexter in East Anglia.
Despite limited opportunities Dexter scored 1,339 first-class runs and three championship hundreds for Kent at a respectable average of 40.57, he also made valuable one-day contributions and his Friends Provident Trophy century at Beckenham in June, his second limited overs ton for the county, was chiefly responsible for seeing Spitfires though their quarter final tie against Somerset.
Sadly for Dexter, he was dropped from the first team the very next day and, on cup final day at Lord’s, was effectively barred from the Kent dressing room along with fellow capped players Amjad Khan and Martin Saggers.
Yet it was Kent’s pre-season decision to sign Justin Kemp, a third Kolpak player on a two-year deal that effectively sounded the death knell on Dexter’s career with Kent.
A fine, athletic outfielder and likeable, softly-spoken character, Dexter’s move away from St Lawrence came just three days after Kent’s decision to release 16-year veteran Matt Walker.
In terms of timing the decisions could not be worse for the club and it leaves them with little or no batting cover for their two remaining four-day games and the 2009 campaign.
It is known that Kent made enquiries over signing Middlesex star Ed Joyce, but his six-figure salary demands will probably mean he joins the likes of Nottinghamshire or Hampshire.
So Kent’s former England Under-19 right-hander Sam Northeast may yet be thrust into the limelight next summer.
Having finished his studies at Harrow School, Northeast has decided to take a year out before going to University in order to kick-start his county cricket career.
Clearly alarmed by Dexter’s decision to quit the club Kent’s chairman of Cricket, Graham Johnson said: “We are bitterly disappointed that Neil has decided not to pursue his future with Kent. We have done a great deal to help him with his development as a cricketer during his time with the club.
"We have offered him a three-year contract that would have provided him with an outstanding opportunity to make the most of his undoubted talent. It is a great pity that he does not feel able to take advantage of this opportunity.”