Neil Dexter is starting to feel the benefit of just being one of the boys again at Middlesex.
The former Kent man’s 51 in the first innings of the County Championship fixture against Lancashire at Lord’s this week was his second half century since giving up the one-day captaincy of the tenants of Lord’s at the start of the 2014 campaign.
It was not a decision the 29-year-old took lightly, but one made to get a handle on his basic role as a batsman – something he admits he lost sight of amid the responsibilities of being the man at the top.
Dexter knows his place is no longer guaranteed, but in a sense that is all part of the attraction of taking the step back and recovering the sense of butterflies in the stomach which had previously brought him success in the game.
He said: “It makes my position more vulnerable in that my place in the side is not nailed on as it would be if I was captain and I think that may give my batting an edge that I’ve lacked.
“For other people captaincy takes their mind off the game in a good way, where for me that nervousness I’ve always got batting was taken away by obviously worrying about who is going to play on the morning of a game, the team talk and things.
“I put a lot of thoughts and energy into that so when it came to my batting I almost did not have that nervousness and that felt weird.
“Some people need that nervousness – I certainly do and I’d got a bit lost in the big picture.
“As much want to concentrate on your own batting it is hard to do that when you have one eye on the scoreboard and what is going on in the game.”
One additional responsibility Dexter has been happy to absorb into his small picture though is becoming a dad following the birth of daughter Holly late last month.
Despite the odd sleepless night, his new arrival is very much part of him being in a good place mentally at the moment.
“I’m just enjoying being a dad. My mum has been over to help my wife Kayleigh and it is an exciting time I don’t want to rush.
“I think it takes your mind away from cricket in a good way and it can settle you too, so all good so far.”