Move over Roy of the Rovers, Macca’s the man

Neil McKenzie produced the star turn with 79 not out. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
Neil McKenzie produced the star turn with 79 not out. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
Gareth Berg bowling in Hampshire's win against Surrey. Picture: Neil Marshall

Crane and Rossouw fire as Hampshire maintain strong start

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Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Neil McKenzie may not be the kind of bloke to smash the leather off the ball as others in Friends Life t20 have shown this season.

But as wise old heads in a crisis go, there are few better.

The South African cracked a quite superb 79 not out to lead the Royals home to a victory that looked like it was well within their grasp, then in tatters, then back on the agenda in one of the most exciting games of t20 cricket you are ever likely to see.

The 2010 final at the Rose Bowl was quite some game with a last-over finish that would have been a bit far-fetched in a cricketing equivalent of Roy of the Rovers.

This was right up there as well.

Needing 12 runs from the final over, McKenzie and Dimi Mascarenhas (19 not out) failed to get Andy Carter away in the first two deliveries and then the 36-year-old batsman pulled up with a tight muscle in the back of his leg.

Just as in 2010 when Dan Christian pulled a calf and needed assistance, out trotted a runner for the final few balls.

The only thing missing was groundsman Nigel Gray jogging out with a paint pot to mark the line.

This time, though, as the scores drew level with McKenzie cracking two superb boundaries, the message got through that Hampshire had effectively won with a ball to spare as they levelled the scores.

McKenzie, however, made absolutely sure by drilling a final boundary to carve Hampshire’s name into finals day for the third straight year.

Nottinghamshire looked to have posted a very decent total of 178 as Samit Patel (60) dragged his side to an imposing score.

But Danny Briggs (one for 23) and Glenn Maxwell (three for 32) applied the brakes and made sure it was evenly-poised at the midway point.

In reply, Hampshire looked in total command with Simon Katich (25) and McKenzie in full flow but then looked in total disarray at 78 for five.

Liam Dawson (30) played a vital innings but while Mascarenhas played his part, the evening belonged to McKenzie.