• McKenzie ready for challenge

    Neil McKenzie, South Africa’s new batting consultant, says his transition from player to coach has happened rather quickly.

    Coach Russell Domingo confirmed on Wednesday that McKenzie will fill the role of batting coach for the two T20I’s against England, the three against Australia and the T20 World Cup in India.

    ‘It’s great to have him on board,’ Domingo said. ‘It’s been something that we have been trying to do for a long time. We have explored a few options and finally one guy has committed to us, we are ecstatic that Neil will be joining us.

    ‘Neil will work with us until the end of the T20 World Cup,’ he added. ‘Things will be assessed from there, it’s the end of the cricket season, and we will look at things going forward. He has played a lot of Test, ODI and T20 cricket both locally and overseas.

    ‘The main thing with Neil will be the relationship he develops with players, as a coach, that is the most important ingredient. Being able to work with people and to get people to understand and listen to ideas that you might have of a particular skill. Some guys might have all of the knowledge but often their way of getting it across might not be the best way, that’s the most important thing and I think he will be good at that.’

    McKenzie said it was an honour for him to be part of national set-up again for the first time since 2009.

    ‘It’s really a good and exciting bunch [of players] and really keen to get stuck in and work with all the professionals and try and make a difference for South Africa,’ McKenzie said.

    ‘The transition has happened quite quickly for me in terms of going from being a player to now all of a sudden a coach in the space of a couple of months. I’ve always loved the nuances of cricket and definitely with the batting so I see myself as a guy who sort of experienced quite a few different batting aspects. I’ve opened the batting, played in the middle order, played a lot on the subcontinent.

    ‘I haven’t been the star so I think I can probably try and relate to a lot of the guys if they are going through difficult periods,’ McKenzie said.

    ‘It didn’t come naturally for me, it was hard work and trying and testing different methods. I will probably have a more realistic, hands on, do the hard yards type of coaching.

    ‘The game has changed a lot but the fundamentals stay the same. It just frees guys up. I think it’s more the mental approach. Technically there’s a few things the guys do a little bit differently. When I first started a lot of the guys had low back-lifts, now all of a sudden with guys trying to clear fences the back-lifts have definitely gone up a lot more.

    ‘I think the T20s has been a good injection for cricket and it shows not just the guys who can hit it out of the park, there’s a lot of skill required to be successful at that level.’

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