Former South African batsman, Neil McKenzie was appointed as the batting consultant only nine days after his retirement back in 2016. He was a stalwart in South Africa’s middle-order for four years in the early 2000s. He represented South Africa in 58 Test matches. He scored over 3000 runs in Tests at an average just above 37.
However, everyone was surprised when McKenzie was excluded after Ottis Gibson was appointed the head coach. Gibson announced his backroom staff late last year. The former Proteas opener was ditched, along with bowling coach Charl Langeveldt and assistant coach Adrian Birrell.
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But now, during the third Test against India at the Wanderers, it looks like McKenzie is back. Dale Benkenstein is the new batting coach of the national squad, but he was keen on getting McKenzie to join up with the squad once more. McKenzie was even seen in the nets dishing out ‘throw-downs’ to the out-of-form Quinton de Kock. He was also seen giving some tips to Andile Phehlukwayo.
The Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said that he was just assisting the batsmen. He said, “He is just assisting. He was part of the Proteas set-up for a while. His role going forward will probably be to look at the next tier of batsmen coming through. It says a lot about Dale that he’s happy to bring in guys who were in his role before him. The two of them get on really well and I think it’s a great thing for Cricket South Africa (CSA).”
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Du Plessis further added, “The more guys in key positions who have been involved with the team for a long time and know what it takes to be involved as a player at this level, the better. They can look at the next tier of players and make sure that they have a lot of insight.”
There was the understanding that Neil was drafted in for the Johannesburg Test to help the out of form Quinton de Kock. Talking about the same, Faf said, “If that was the case then I didn’t know about it. The decision to bring Neil in was taken before Quinny didn’t make runs at Centurion.”