McKenzie praises 'Guinness' Boucher
Hampshire won the toss and will field against Yorkshire
The rain that stair-rodded down on Southampton prevented anything other than the toss taking place. Hampshire won and will take the field against Yorkshire when play does eventually start in a match in which Neil McKenzie, the former South Africa batsman, will open the innings against Steve Harmison, the former England bowler who is now an honorary Yorkshireman. To confuse matters further, they were once, briefly, team mates at Durham.
This, though, was far from McKenzie's mind in the West End atrium. Like all his countrymen, he has been shocked by the eye injury sustained by Mark Boucher, his friend and colleague since they represented South Africa at Under-19 level.
McKenzie was in touch with Boucher after his freak injury at Taunton earlier this week and was told immediately that serious damage had been sustained. "Obviously every wicketkeeper suffers a few injuries but the only one I can remember him having was when he cut himself with a biltong knife," he said. "Normally he wears sunglasses to keep in and that obviously would have prevented the injury. Each wicketkeeper will now assess whether helmets should be worn all the time in the same way that batsmen do.
"These things happen for a reason and we all knew this was going to be Mark's last tour. How good was he? David Richardson, his predecessor, played in about a third of the number of Tests he has been involved in and he wouldn't have played for as long as he has and been called 'Guinness' after the record book, for no good reason. His catching contributed a great deal to the number of wickets taken by Allan Donald and Makhaya Ntini. He was a powerhouse figure at the back.
"Mark wanted to play for two more years for Cape Cobras, which would not have affected his family life. I am not sure whether he will want to stay in the game as he is a silent partner in a few business ventures and obviously the most important thing is that he regains his full sight. From the point of the view of the series between England and South Africa, it was already very finely balanced in terms of personnel."
McKenzie, who came to England with South Africa on their last two tours and has played in 58 Tests, will appear for Hampshire until at least early August, depending on how long Michael Carberry takes to recover from a knee injury suffered in net practice. He has never particularly wanted to open the innings, but did so for his country as there were no positions available in the middle order, and will do so now for Hampshire because this, too, is where the vacancy has occurred.
"The glory boys can come in at three and four," he joked. "Giles White, the Hampshire coach, asked me how I viewed this and I am happy not to upset the continuity in the middle order. I have a family in South Africa but will willingly come back next year if I am wanted."