Neil McKenzie has been tasked with helping the next tier of batsmen in the Proteas set-up. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Neil McKenzie’s presence at the Proteas’ training session on the eve of the final Test against India is part of a wider strategy to utilise South African cricket’s intellectual capital for the betterment of the national team.  

McKenzie, the Proteas’ batting coach from 2016 until Ottis Gibson’s appointment as head coach last year, was in the nets at the Wanderers on Tuesday, dishing out ‘throw-downs’ to the out-of-form Quinton de Kock and handing out tips to Andile Phehlukwayo.

“He was just assisting. His role going forward will be to look at the next tier of batsmen coming through.

“So, it was to make sure that he is on the ball with working with Dale Benkenstein so that they speak from the same mouth,” said captain Faf du Plessis.

Benkenstein was Gibson’s choice to replace McKenzie as the national side’s batting coach, but according to Du Plessis, it was Benkenstein who called McKenzie to work with the South African players ahead of the third Test.

“They get on really well and Dale was really good in getting him in, and the team is still working with him.

“That says a lot about Dale and the fact that he is happy to bring in a guy who was in the role before him. The two of them work well together.

“It’s great for Cricket South Africa that the more guys in key positions under the Proteas who’ve been involved for a long period of time, and knows what it takes be a successful batsman, bowler and player at this level, they can look at the next tier of players and make sure they get an insight into that,” said Du Plessis.

* Meanwhile, Du Plessis said he and the Proteas team management would ensure this weekend’s IPL auction would not become a distraction for the players during the Wanderers Test.

“We don’t have our phones (during the game), so it’s difficult to check. There will be distractions, that’s normal, the IPL plays a big part in all of our lives,” said Du Plessis, who’s been listed among the ‘marquee players’ for the auction.

“For the management and myself, it’s important that we keep the focus and energy driving toward the Test match.

“At the end of the day’s play we can talk about the auction, but the next day, when it’s Test-match time, then we must ensure we are switched on and focused.”

There are 41 South African players up for auction this weekend.


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