Neil McKenzie did something. Tony Greig called him brave, Mark Nicholas branded him stupid. We’d like to add ‘mental’ to the equation as well.
Of course, Neil McKenzie is known to be a bit mental, but this was a different kind of mental. He took up a fielding position maybe two yards from the bat, almost directly in front, wearing no protection whatsoever.
Entirely predictably, Ricky Ponting drove the next ball straight into him. It was hard to gauge whether Ponting had middled it or not in the yard and a half that the ball travelled, but he definitely didn’t hold back. It was a full backlift, full follow-through kind of a drive.
In slow motion replays you can see McKenzie’s arm flesh doing a macabre disco dance at the point of impact. He grimaced as the shot was being played, but ensured he didn’t really make much of a fuss afterwards. You know why? It’s because he’s hard.
This kind of thing irritates us. We all know that it hurt like hell. We’ve all got nerves. We know how they work. Being hit by a hard driven cricket ball causes pain and pain hurts – that’s very much its defining feature.
McKenzie moved out of that fielding position immediately afterwards, so perhaps he’s not as brave, stupid or mental as he’d have us believe.
That’s ‘The Wisden Cricketer’ to you.
We won’t link to every piece of ours that appears on their blog, but we thought that today’s was ‘all right’ – and that’s a real high water mark for us.
It’s more about Neil McKenzie. We don’t feel like everyone really got into it when we wrote about him earlier in the week, so we’re practicing our ‘repeat until funny’ policy.
“I’ve got a wife and child now and don’t have much time to worry about toilet seats and taping bats to the ceiling.” – Neil McKenzie
You know what it’s like when you’re younger and you’re free to do as you please, you can merrily worry about toilet seats to your heart’s content.
You’re in the mood for taping a bat to the ceiling? You damn well tape a bat to the ceiling. ‘There it is. There’s my bat. Taped to the ceiling. Job done. That is a beautiful piece of handiwork.’
It would ruin the beauty of the quote if we gave you the background, suffice to say that Neil McKenzie used to be a bit mental and we’ve warmed to him an extraordinary amount as a consequence.
Opening partnerships are the most boring kinds of batting partnership – especially if it’s the first innings. There’s no context to the innings and you’re removing any doubt about the rest of the game. Let’s face it, after 415 runs without a wicket, it’s either going to be a South African win or a draw.
We admire it in for its cold remorselessness. We like players who don’t let the opposition have a sniff. But as records go, it’s not one of our favourites.
Must be a bit of a confidence booster though. Next innings, Smith and McKenzie can look at each other as they go out to bat and they can think to themselves: ‘We can bat for bloody ages together.’
Then McKenzie can think: ‘Smithy’s so strong’. And Smith can think: ‘McKenzie’s cover-driving’s dreamy.’ Then the pair of them will just drop their bats, discard their batting helmets and kiss.
Graeme Smith’s leg will bend at the knee and come up behind him.