McKenzie loses Lions captaincy

Neil McKenzie gets forward to defend AFP

Neil McKenzie has been dropped as captain of the Lions with the franchise saying they are moving in a "different direction". Alviro Petersen has been named as his replacement with Thami Tsolekile, the former South Africa wicketkeeper, filling in until Petersen returns from the India tour.

The Lions finished bottom of the recently completed MTN40 tournament and lost their opening Pro20 match against Cape Cobras, while they are fourth in the Supersport series table.

"The franchise and team management feel that it is time for new leadership and a different direction after having had Neil McKenzie lead the team since 2004," said a Lions statement.

McKenzie's own form this season has been solid and he finished the MTN40 with 419 runs at 41.90 and currently has an impressive 680 runs at 56.66 in the four-day competition which puts him fourth in the country. Although McKenzie has been relieved of the captaincy, the franchise still believe he has an important role to play.

"Neil has been a superb captain and team man over a long period," said the Lions coach Dave Nosworthy. "His passion for the badge is in no doubt and his players have always loved him.

"We now, however, see Neil playing a different but senior role within the team's make-up and look forward to this new role and the experience he can pass on. I am confident that his professionalism and superb form as a player will remain as always, and Alviro and Thami will receive the necessary support from him and the entire team."

McKenzie recently signed a Kolpak deal with Hampshire in county cricket having played the last of his 58 Tests in March 2009 against Australia at Durban.