Now is the time for Cricket South Africa to commit to Reeza Hendricks for next year’s World Cup, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
As their so-called ‘Vision 2019′ gradually separates those who will travel to the United Kingdom for the ODI showpiece from the rest, the process is pushing Hendricks ahead of several other pretenders.
Sunday’s 44 in the first ODI against Australia in Perth again characterised his value. The target was modest, the opposition downtrodden, but the delivery clinical. A top and middle order void of the reliable services of Hashim Amla and JP Duminy demanded this – and the steely right-hander duly delivered.
This sort of thoroughness and steadfast temperament will be essential in London and surrounds next year, when the Proteas will predictably have to beat mental voodoo, media pressure and, of course, a lengthy history of premature World Cup exits.
From a century on ODI debut to a mere eight runs in the four innings that followed, the 29-year-old Hendricks has since recovered with a fine 66 in tough conditions in Paarl and this 44 against the Aussies. Inconsistent, perhaps, but rather that than plenty of promise followed by an eventual lack of delivery.
This, after all, is a man named in the Test squad more than three years ago, but is still uncapped in the ultimate format. He has been part of the international set-up for an extended period. His 2017-18 domestic campaign – across all formats – was impressive. He is no longer just a talent being trialled in T20I cricket, with a view to higher honours in the future. He has paid his cliched dues.
Here’s the national selectors’ chance to repay his investment. Ottis Gibson and company have to keep communication clear with him, not just in selection but in word. He is ahead of the pack; he isn’t necessarily just part of the pecking order.
Amla and Quinton de Kock are not necessarily the right combination at the top of the intermediate-format order, particularly in the United Kingdom next year. Evidently, Hendricks – instead of one or the other – might be. Aiden Markram, then, can stay at No 3 in the order.
Meanwhile, how about Robbie Frylinck as a wildcard pick for the World Cup? More on that later.