McKenzie back and aiming high

Neil McKenzie salutes the Rose Bowl crowd. Picture: Barry Zee
Neil McKenzie salutes the Rose Bowl crowd. Picture: Barry Zee
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BATSMAN Neil McKenzie penned a new deal to extend his spell with Hampshire and declared: Let’s make 2012 a year to remember.

McKenzie, 36, returns to the Rose Bowl for a third season.

He is currently playing for the Highveld Lions in his home country of South Africa but will be back in time for the Royals’ Friends Life t20 campaign, which starts away to south coast rivals, Sussex on Thursday, June 14.

McKenzie said: ‘I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Rose Bowl.

‘Last year was tough for the team, particularly as we had hoped to build on what we had achieved in 2010.

‘So I’m looking forward to making some good contributions for the club going forward.

‘We’ve got everything in place from personnel to facilities and passion so all the indications are that we should have a great 2012.’

McKenzie is also expected to line up for Hampshire in all forms of the game, when he makes his return.

Manager Giles White is delighted to have the player back in his ranks.

‘It’s a great boost for the changing room that Neil will be returning in 2012,’ he said.

‘He contributes on many different levels, has been outstanding in one day cricket and brings quality and experience to the group.

‘It is the intention for Neil to join the squad in the lead up to the Friends Life t20 competition but we have discussed a flexibility that may allow us to call on his services before then.’

Last season proved a difficult one for Hampshire, culminating in relegation to the county championship division two.

However, McKenzie kept his own standards high and proved the only Hampshire batsman (and one of only 12 in the top flight) to score more than 1,000 Championship runs.

He also scored centuries against Worcestershire at New Road and Warwickshire at The Rose Bowl as well as combining with Michael Carberry to put on the ninth-highest partnership in the history of first-class cricket, against Yorkshire at the Rose Bowl.

His own contribution was a first-class career-best of 237.

The partnership, which totalled 523, is the highest in Hampshire’s history.

Meanwhile, Hampshire have confirmed that Benny Howell and Tim Ravenscroft, will not be returning for the 2012 campaign.