Macca: Rest has done me world of good

Neil McKenzie has helped put Hampshire in a commanding postition. Picture: Neil Marshall
Neil McKenzie has helped put Hampshire in a commanding postition. Picture: Neil Marshall
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Neil McKenzie strolled back into Hampshire and smiled: My old knees needed the break.

The South African batsman cracked a brilliantly unflustered 85 not out in his first appearance since rejoining the club for a fourth straight year.

But after a busy period in recent years, the 37-year-old felt he needed a break from cricket to ensure he came back hungry for more success after a hectic schedule for Highveld Lions over the English winter.

And he admitted his creaking joints needed a breather.

He explained: ‘I haven’t done too much for a few weeks. We had a family holiday but it was a good break and good to rest the old knees.

‘It was a long season last year – I went straight into the Champions League and then a full season again.

‘But after a while, I was reading things on the internet about Hampshire and you start looking forward to coming back.

‘It’s nice to be back and the sun is out so it’s all good. I just found last year, having that bit of a break did me the world of good.

‘Luckily Hampshire wanted me back for the three months or so.

‘They liked the idea and I liked the idea so it was a good match.’

McKenzie struggled to find his form straight after arriving in July last year – coming into the Friends Life t20 with precious little time to re-adjust to English cricketing conditions.

But he looked totally at ease back at the crease as he helped Hampshire to 265 for four on day one of their Championship contest with Kent.

He said: ‘Last year I came back and went straight into the t20 trying to do a bit too much.

‘It’s hard to give yourself a chance in that so it was nice to come back into a four-day game.

‘It gives you a bit more time to get the technique and the feel of the wicket again. It gets everything going again.’

And after a difficult spell in early-season conditions on his previous campaigns with Hampshire, McKenzie was happy with his start – although he is determined to now build on it.

He said: ‘I’m glad to get a few runs under the belt early and hopefully that will help for the rest of the season.

‘It’s certainly better than starting nought and four, which happened to me here before!

‘But there are plenty of runs to be made on day two and you don’t take anything for granted.

‘So I’m happy with where we are at the moment but if you bat first and win the toss, anything over 400 has to be the first marker for us.’

Meanwhile, Hampshire yesterday confirmed the signing of Pakistan bowler Sohail Tanvir as their overseas player. He joins this week and will be available in all formats.

McKenzie, who played alongside him for the Lions, said: ‘He is one of the top-10 death bowlers in the world, so is a really good addition for us.’