December 8, 2008

South African cricket

McKenzie calm after obsessive compulsive storm

Peter English

Alex Brown, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, reports on how Neil McKenzie overcame some strange habits to become one of South Africa’s best batsmen.

McKenzie's international career seemed to have terminated in 2004 when, after 41 moderate Tests in the Proteas' middle order, he was cut adrift by national selectors. By then, the Johannesburg native was in the grips of what he believes was obsessive compulsive disorder, and enslaved to a series of bizarre superstitions - including the taping of his bat to the ceiling before each innings and insisting every toilet seat in the dressing room was down when he went to bat.

McKenzie now concedes his complex set of rituals overwhelmed him, and might have cost him his career. But after four years of toil and self-discovery in South Africa's domestic cricket, the then 32-year-old was handed a lifeline in January when called in to replace Herschelle Gibbs.

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Peter English is former Australasia editor of ESPNcricinfo

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