McKenzie will stick around to answer SOS

Neil McKenzie, right, will cover for Michael Carberry, left. Picture: Neil Marshall
Neil McKenzie, right, will cover for Michael Carberry, left. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Neil McKenzie has pledged himself to the Hampshire cause to fill in for the injured Michael Carberry.

The former South Africa Test batsman was originally due to play just Friends Life t20 matches for the Royals this season.

But with Carberry ruled out with a knee problem for the next few weeks, McKenzie has agreed to add some much-needed depth to the batting line-up.

He will play in this week’s Championship division two clash with Yorkshire, which starts on Wednesday.

And he will also be available for all forms of cricket, at least until Carberry is fit again, before possibly extending his stay even further.

McKenzie said: ‘I won’t be here for the whole season at the moment, but I’m here to cover for Carbs while he’s out with his injury.

‘I was going to go home after the t20 and come back for the quarter-finals and finals day if we made it.

‘But now I’m staying for the time being and I’m looking forward to it.

‘Hampshire want to give their exciting youngsters a go but they want some cover with one or two of the experienced guys out injured.

‘At this stage of the season, they are still in with a big shout for the CB40 and the Championship.

‘There’s a lot to play for.

‘At the moment, I’m definitely here for the next month- and-a-half. The further we get in the t20, the longer I’ll stay.’

McKenzie was unable to commit to the full season with the county and, with his family back in South Africa, felt he could not play the whole domestic campaign in England.

He said: ‘There are a few issues that are nothing to do with Hampshire that are more on my side.

‘There are a few family things and a few other things going on.

‘That’s the reason I haven’t said I want to be here the whole time.’

McKenzie was left as frustrated as the rest of the Ageas Bowl crowd yesterday at yet another abandoned game of cricket.

A heavy shower near the scheduled start time for the clash with Essex soon passed but left the outfield saturated and unfit for play.

Despite the ground staff’s best efforts, the umpires called a halt to proceedings to spark boos and an angry reaction from spectators.

‘Everyone was pretty disappointed not to play,’ said McKenzie.

‘The boys fine me if I’m negative about the weather so I have to be nice and positive.

‘But I can never tell with this weather. Sometimes you think you’ve got no chance of playing and you play and other times you think you’ve got a shout and you don’t play.

‘From what I understand, it was already wet and the shower then made the outfield too wet and sludgy.’