Strong batting display puts Hampshire in charge

Neil McKenzie returned to Hampshire with a bang. Picture: Neil Marshall
Neil McKenzie returned to Hampshire with a bang. Picture: Neil Marshall
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It was like he’s never been away.

Not for the first time, Neil McKenzie held a Hampshire innings together with a trademark knock.

In typically-understated fashion, the popular South African batsman marked his return to the Ageas Bowl with an unbeaten 85 as Hampshire ended day one of the County Championship division two clash with Kent in a powerful position on 265 for four.

Most know that he is not one to blast his way to big scores.

Instead, it is those clever glances and the way he finds angles that makes him so hard to bowl at. Although, it doesn’t stop him finding the boundary – as his 12 fours in 140 balls demonstrated.

This time it wasn’t a repair job for McKenzie, though.

He built on the good work of Jimmy Adams (65), Michael Carberry (33) and Liam Dawson (36) in a good batting display from the home side.

Adams and Carberry reached 80 for no wicket at lunch, only for the latter to depart to the first ball after the resumption to Darren Stevens (one for 37).

Adam Riley (three for 59) shone for winless Kent, who have made a miserable start to the new season.

At times, the 21-year-old spinner looked like the only real threat to the batsmen.

And his success will surely have had Danny Briggs licking his lips at what may lie in store for him later in the game.

After Carberry’s departure, Riley accounted for the Hampshire skipper – trapped in front.

Meanwhile, Dawson was looking in good nick until he followed in similar fashion.

James Vince (10), who started the season so brightly, has seen his form tail off of late and did not look comfortable before he was out in the final over before tea.

But McKenzie got into his stride in the final session, alongside Sean Ervine (31 not out) in a partnership of 82 as Kent’s bowling attack began to look decidedly weary.

On this evidence, Hampshire should be looking towards a first innings total of 450 to 500 – and a real chance to dictate proceedings in a game that they need to win to keep their promotion bid on track.