Hampshire boosted by McKenzie’s increased availability

Hampshire batsman Neil McKenzie is now available to the county for most of the 2012 season.

McKenzie was always set to return to the Rose Bowl for the Friends Life t20 competition in June, but he is now also available to play for the second half of the LV County Championship and Clydesdale Bank 40 competitions and may even return in time to play before the Friends Life t20.

The 36-year-old Kolpak, who is currently playing for the Highveld Lions in South Africa, will be back for the Royals’ FLt20 opener at Sussex on June 14 at the latest.

He said: “Last year was tough for the team but we’ve got everything in place so all the indications are that we should have a great 2012.”

Manager Giles White said: “It is the intention for Neil to join the squad in the lead up to the Friends Life t20 competition but we have discussed a flexibility that may allow us to call on his services before then.”

McKenzie will be one of three Hampshire batsman with Test experience, alongside Simon Katich and Michael Carberry. But fringe players Benny Howell and Tim Ravenscroft will not be returning to the Rose Bowl.

Howell, 23, scored 71 against champions Lancashire last season – in the only first-class appearance of his career so far – but was disillusioned with his lack of opportunities and is looking at options elsewhere. Ravenscroft has chosen to explore a career outside cricket.

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