Mr Reliable’s return is to be delayed

Neil McKenzie. Picture: Barry Zee
Neil McKenzie. Picture: Barry Zee
England's Mason Crane will make his England Test debut when the fifth Ashes Test begins at Sydney Cricket Ground tonight

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Hampshire have been dealt a blow as they begin preparations for next season.

The Rose Bowl outfit are determined to rebuild after they were relegated from division one of the County Championship.

As first-team manager Giles White and chairman Rod Bransgrove attempt to freshen up the playing staff, a host of big names have left the club – including experienced stars Dominic Cork and Nic Pothas.

One they were hoping to keep their hands on was their Mr Reliable – middle order batsman Neil McKenzie.

But the right-hander, who has been a key performer throughout the past two seasons, has revealed his contribution to the county next term will be limited due to family reasons.

‘It is just a reflection at the moment in terms of my family and what it best for us at the moment,’ said the 35-year-old.

‘I would love to come back to the club.

‘If I was a bachelor I would definitely be back but family has got to come first.

‘I have been chatting to Rod and Chalks.

‘I don’t think I will be here for the start of the season.

‘But hopefully, down the line, I will come back and do a couple of months and be a part of the Hampshire set-up again.’

The former South Africa Test player has scored 2,062 first-class runs at an average of 44.82 since his Kolpak arrival in 2010.

Last term he notched a career-high 237 in a record-breaking partnership of 523 with triple-centurion Michael Carberry.

His contributions have not simply been restricted to the four-day game either.

McKenzie played a key role in the t20 title triumph of 2010 and the brave defence of that crown last term.

And it is in the shortest format he is expected to come back to the Rose Bowl.

There will then be a possibility of extending his stay for the remainder of the campaign as Hampshire bid for a speedy return to the top flight of the Championship.

McKenzie is currently back in his native South Africa – for whom he earned 58 Test caps – playing for Highveld Lions in the SuperSport Series.