The title says it all to be honest. After more comebacks than Jesus or Michael Jackson, playing in matches on dates we all thought he'd be in SA for, the curtain finally comes down on Neil McKenzie's season with Hampshire, and in short it has been a pleasure. A pleasure to watch a world class player form part of the backbone for a team wracked by injuries. To slot into Hampshire Cricket life just like that, taking on plenty of responsibilities, including two captaincy stints (one unexpected), securing the middle order and playing a key role as a senior player in a very young 20/20 team. After the retirement of Crawley we were desperately in need of a proven run getter and Bransgrove and White made that happen by convincing McKenzie to join as a kolpak. It was quite a coup and despite greyblazer's dislike of his technique McKenzie brought some of the batting that saw him earn a recall to the test squad a few years ago. He started slowly but quickly found his stride, hitting his first CC century in Hampshire's first win, teaming up with Herath to chase down a very tough total with little time to spare. He was in and out of the 20/20 side before forming a rock in that side too, striking 50s against Gloucs, Somerset, Sussex (crucially, to see us into the knockout phase) and Somerset again, in the Final in which he was deservedly man of the match. It was a fitting reward, as he provided something that had been missing from the side in years previous. We boasted and still boast plenty of quick scoring stroke makers, the likes of Lumb, Ervine, Benham, Mascarenhas etc. However what we lacked was a focus in the top order. Yes 20/20 is all about runs scored as quickly as possible, but there is still a place for a batsman to tick along at a strike rate of 120, provided that others build around him. McKenzie provided that, the unflappable middle order man who was just as happy chasing as he was setting a total. In short we would never have won the 20/20 without McKenzie.
2015 Cricket World Cup Champs!
2 years ago