McKenzie establishes Hampshire platform
Hampshire 104 for 2 (McKenzie 52*) trail Gloucestershire 271 by 167 runs
Hampshire batsman Neil McKenzie made light of bowler-friendly conditions to frustrate Gloucestershire on the second day of their Division Two match. Facing a youthful seam attack in the cold and damp, the 36-year-old served up defiance aplenty to post an unbeaten half-century as Hampshire reached 104 for 2 in reply to Gloucestershire's 271 on a rain-interrupted day in which 63 overs were lost.
Adopting attack as the best form of defence, McKenzie helped himself to nine boundaries on his way to 52 not out from 84 balls and shared in a stand of 79 for the second wicket with Bilal Shafayat to suggest promotion-chasing Hampshire can build a significant first-innings lead in improving overhead conditions when play resumes on Wednesday.
Recruited as a short-term replacement for the injured Michael Carberry, the former South Africa international was picked ahead of young England Lions batsman James Vince, to the disappointment of chairman of selectors, Geoff Miller, who travelled on to Old Trafford to monitor other prospects rather than remain in Bristol.
Given that Hampshire's priority is to achieve promotion back to Division One, the decision to include the experienced McKenzie at the top of the order made sense and he more than justified his selection.
The right-hander was unfazed by the low cloud and light drizzle that proved such a deterrent to spectators. Prepared to bide his time and wait for the bad ball, McKenzie proved especially strong on the leg side, opting to take the game to Gloucestershire's bowlers after Jimmy Adams had departed for 9, caught behind fending at a rising delivery from Ian Saxelby.
Quite content to drop anchor and see off the new ball, Shafayat served as a perfect foil, grafting his way to 20 from 51 balls. Desperate to break the partnership, Gloucestershire skipper Alex Gidman called on Benny Howell and the former Hampshire player duly obliged, having Shafayat held by Rob Nicol at second slip off his 14th delivery.
Sensing an opportunity to apply pressure, Gloucestershire were then frustrated by the rain, which caused play to be abandoned for the rest of the day.
Resuming on 265 for 8, Gloucestershire's tail offered precious little resistance when play finally began after a delay of 45 minutes in the morning. Richard Coughtrie represented the home side's last chance of garnering a third batting bonus point and he had added just three runs to his overnight score when he was pinned lbw by James Tomlinson for 26.
Kabir Ali had David Payne caught behind in the very next over to wrap up the innings, the former England seamer finishing with figures of 3 for 69.