McKenzie ditches ego to dig deep for vital t20 victory

Neil McKenzie in action against Kent Spitfires Picture: LMI Photography
Neil McKenzie in action against Kent Spitfires Picture: LMI Photography
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New Hampshire signing Sam Northeast  Picture: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

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Neil McKenzie insisted he had to leave his ego at the door as he helped guide Hampshire to another Friends Life t20 victory.

The Royals stormed to a 69-run success over Kent Spitfires after posting 141 for six and then skittling Rob Key’s side for 72 all out with another powerful bowling display.

While it was a worn wicket that was certainly helpful to the bowlers, it was certainly not the batting minefield that Kent made it look.

But the South African, who struck a vital 48, admitted it was a day for digging in as a batsman, rather than giving your wicket away.

McKenzie said: ‘We always knew we would have to dig in.

‘In t20 you are usually looking at big targets of 160-plus.

‘But we knew it was a worn wicket and were looking at around the 130-mark. Anything more than that would be a big bonus.

‘It was just one of those games where you needed to have a thick skin. Sometimes the ball beats the bat or you’re hit on the pads and the strike rate isn’t always good.

‘But as long as the partnership is good in a game like that, that’s the main thing.

‘And we had a few nice little partnerships in there.

‘It’s nice to bat with guys who can take the game away from the opposition.

‘My role is to try to get us to a platform where we can’t get bowled out and then unleash our all-rounders and big hitters.’

The total looked a solid effort but it was made to look like a mountain to climb for Kent, with some excellent bowling from a Royals attack that is growing in confidence.

McKenzie said: ‘A lot has been said about our spin attack but our seamers did really well.

‘Dimi Mascarenhas took wickets up front and Dominic Cork took a wicket with his first ball.

‘And then Danny Briggs, Imran Tahir and Shahid Afridi all bowled well.

‘It was a really good team performance again.’

Cork, meanwhile, was unaware that his first delivery of the innings that trapped Azhar Mahmood was actually for a hat-trick after claiming two wickets in two balls in the win over Sussex.

The skipper smiled: ‘I didn’t know that. But that’s my fourth of my career and my second in t20 cricket so I’ll take it.’

With Imran Tahir also taking a stunner of a catch before embarking on a manic celebratory run, the spirit is soaring within the Rose Bowl dressing room.

And the captain is more than happy to see his men milk their moments.

He said: ‘He (Tahir) loves his celebrations. I’m not sure they would be quite as big if they weren’t on TV.

‘He wants them beamed all around South Africa, Pakistan and the 20 clubs he has been at. I love it when players celebrate – Shahid Afridi is the same. We enjoy our cricket.’