Neil McKenzie is determined to build on his match-winning knock against Warwickshire and insists: It’s time the middle order fired.
The Hampshire batsman struck an unbeaten 87 from just 69 balls in Sunday’s CB40 success, including a devastating 24 runs from a superb final over of the Royals innings.
But after a promising start to the Championship campaign with the bat – with scores of 75 and 43 in the draw with Durham – McKenzie made just three runs in two innings as he and the rest of the Hampshire batsmen were blown away in the nine-wicket loss at Nottinghamshire.
That defeat has given added importance to today’s clash against rock-bottom Somerset as the Rose Bowl outfit bid to get their four-day campaign up and running.
McKenzie said: ‘I think I needed that innings (against Warwickshire). I had last year’s slower and lower conditions with the ball swinging around in my head before I got here and a lot of the preparations I did was for those conditions.
‘Conditions are drier than last year, though, so you need to have your game in order.
‘The wickets are really to my liking – they are slightly drier and quicker.
‘None of us batsmen have really put four good knocks together yet but I think everyone is in fairly decent touch so we need to make that count.
‘But that win has given us momentum – that’s the buzzword everyone talks about.
‘Whether it’s four-day cricket, one-day cricket or t20, wins and runs always help.
‘It doesn’t matter what sort of competition it is.’
McKenzie made a slow start to his Hampshire career last term but showed his class as he settled into county cricket with 801 runs and two centuries – averaging more than 40 with the bat.
This year, he has been joined by fellow South African Kolpak additions Johann Myburgh and Friedel de Wet.
McKenzie said: ‘It’s good to be back at Hampshire.
‘I had a really good time last year.
‘Last year ended up with a trophy win and it was well worth it, so hopefully it will be worth it this year as well.
‘We’ve added two of the guys from back home as well.
‘They were more of the junior guys when I was at the Titans so it’s good to see their careers going well and they are both good players.’
McKenzie, who spent a short six-week stint with Somerset in 2007, is eager to put one over on his old side.
He said: ‘They have struggled so far but they are a good side and they have got some serious individuals.
‘We are both near the bottom of the pile at the moment.
‘They will want to get themselves out of the slump and we want to keep them there.’