White aims to bring back batsman

Neil McKenzie has returned to his native South Africa to link up with Highveld Lions Picture: Neil Marshall
Neil McKenzie has returned to his native South Africa to link up with Highveld Lions Picture: Neil Marshall
Tom Alsop. Picture: Neil Marshall

Alsop: Best is yet to come from Hampshire

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Giles White has told Neil McKenzie: We want you back again in 2014.

The 37-year-old batsman played his final game of the season for the club in Saturday’s YB40 semi-final defeat to Glamorgan and has now linked up with his South African side – Highveld Lions.

Having played at least a part of Hampshire’s season for every year since 2010, it is unclear whether the veteran will return for another stint next term.

And while the Hampshire manager is keen to bring him back, White knows he must bide his time to come up with a suitable arrangement for all parties.

Speaking ahead of his side’s Championship division two trip to Worcestershire tomorrow, White said: ‘Macca has gone back now to join the Lions for their training camp.

‘But we will discuss things at the end of the season and make a decision when the situation will be clearer.

‘He’s got a young family but he likes to get the season out of the way before he makes a decision.

‘He’s been a big part of the place for a long time and we value him enormously.

‘I am hopeful he will stay but it’s up to him and his family.’

If McKenzie does return at the age of 38, he will not be around for the whole campaign.

But he showed no signs of age catching up with him this term as he hit 433 runs at an average of 48.11 in six games of four-day cricket, and his wealth of experience would be a welcome addition again next year.

White said: ‘I don’t think it’s realistic he will be around for the whole season so we will try to come up with a workable arrangement.

‘But we all know what he can do. He’s a quality batsman and we would like to have him back if it suits all parties.’

After the heartbreak of missing out on a Lord’s final at the weekend, Hampshire now face a tough challenge to lift themselves for their final three Championship games, especially as they have little left to play for other than pride.

But White wants to see the right attitude and believes some of his men have plenty to prove after a disappointing Championship season.

He said: ‘The nature of professional sport is that you have got to pick yourself up after a defeat.

‘If you lose, you have got to get over it, and if you win, you can celebrate, but you have to get back to business at some point.

‘Some players have a lot to prove so I don’t see that motivation should be an issue.

‘And we’ve got a lot to prove in our four-day cricket.

‘We haven’t had a successful time in that as we have in the one-day competitions.

‘So I see it as an opportunity for people to stand up and perform.

‘We are looking to build in that form of the game.

‘So I am very keen for us to get something out of these three games to take that into next year.’

After last year’s unprecedented double in the t20 and the 40-over competition, it’s a campaign with no silverware this time around.

But the manager feels his side have performed better in limited overs competitions this year, even though they failed to deliver to their usual standards in their semi-final showdowns.

‘We’ve had two semi-final defeats and that is probably the hardest time to go out of a competition,’ said White.

‘We were all bitterly disappointed but that’s the way of the world of sport.

‘In some ways, we look back on our one-day season and we have probably been the best side in terms of consistency and the number of games we’ve won.

‘That probably makes it even harder to miss out.

‘But, overall, I have been very proud of the way the boys have played.

‘Glamorgan came and played a good game against us and we have to give them credit for that but we weren’t at our best – a little bit like the t20 semi-final.

‘Unfortunately, you have got to take that on the chin.

‘We’ve played some exceptional and consistent cricket but there is no prize this year, whereas last year we didn’t have that consistency but produced on the big stage to end up with two trophies.

‘It’s a strange one.’