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Neil McKenzie has been in impressive form for Hampshire during this season's Friends Life t20 Picture: Neil Marshall
Neil McKenzie has been in impressive form for Hampshire during this season's Friends Life t20 Picture: Neil Marshall
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Neil McKenzie has shrugged off Hampshire’s shock Friends Life t20 loss to Kent as just a blip.

The South African batsman so nearly saved the Royals again in their eight-run reverse to the Spitfires last weekend as he hit a defiant 47.

But having saved the side so frequently already in this year’s competition, McKenzie’s latest rescue mission came up narrowly short as Hampshire suffered their first domestic t20 defeat for more than a year.

After a first loss in 17 matches, McKenzie does not feel there is any reason to panic ahead of the home showdown with high-flying Essex, who could jump above Hampshire in the table with a win.

‘Obviously, Sunday didn’t go according to plan against Kent and that was pretty disappointing to lose the game,’ said McKenzie.

‘But it’s the nature of the game that you will lose or get it wrong once or twice.

‘We haven’t got it wrong too often – to get 17 games in a row without losing is quite a feat and I don’t think many of the guys knew we’d done that.

‘So we’ll take positives from that.

‘We have been playing consistently. It’s one hiccup and now it’s a huge game against Essex that we will be looking to win.’

The Royals could book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition with a victory and if other results go their way.

But McKenzie is keen to ensure nobody gets ahead of themselves and starts looking at the points table too closely.

He said: ‘We’ve just got to stick to our plans. We can’t think too far ahead in terms of results.

‘We know Essex have got some quality players but they are coming here to the Ageas Bowl where we have been quite successful in recent years.

‘Of course it would be nice to get the qualifying spot but that would be a bonus.

‘We’ve just got to concentrate on doing the basics right.’

The 37-year-old boasts an extraordinary batting average in this year’s competition of 175 – although that has been inflated by the fact that he was out for the first time in the tournament in the Kent defeat.

But McKenzie played down his influence on the side and remains happy to play his part in guiding the Royals to victories.

He added: ‘I’ve had a few fortunate things go my way but I just always try to play the situation as best I can.

‘It’s gone quite well for me so far but the nature of t20 is that it can chop and change quite quickly.

‘We know we have quality players who can all step up and win games for us and we will be looking to do that against Essex.’