TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
NEIL McKenzie will return to SA’s dressingroom as their batting coach on the back of the endorsement of one of his most respected charges.
“He was an excellent batsman with a great cricketing brain,” Hashim Amla said on Monday. “If he’s the guy who’s joining us, that would be fantastic.
“I’m sure he would be (happy) as well, to be part of the SA team again.”
Yesterday, McKenzie confirmed from the United Arab Emirates – where he is playing for the Virgo Super Kings in the Masters Champions League – that he would “accept the position” with Cricket SA (CSA).
A veteran of 58 tests, the last of them against Australia at Kingsmead in March 2009, McKenzie scored his 53rd first-class century in his final match for the Lions in that format: an undefeated 203 against the Warriors at the Wanderers in March.
Even considering the significant difference in standards between test and franchise cricket, SA will hope some of McKenzie’s form and rock steady mental approach rubs off as they look to bounce back from a 2015 campaign in which they recorded only two centuries – scored by AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar – in eight tests.
Things are looking up, what with Quinton de Kock, Amla, Temba Bavuma and Stephen Cook owning a collective five hundreds in the three tests SA have played this year.
But SA are no longer the confident unit they were before the 2015 World Cup, and McKenzie will have his work cut out to ensure the batsmen are in competitive shape for the World T20 in India next month.