Home competition discipline Overlooked, sidelined, but Hendricks continues to be a game-changer

Overlooked, sidelined, but Hendricks continues to be a game-changer

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Reeza Hendricks’s overall strike rate in the T20 Challenge of 140.12, while scoring 440 runs, means he takes no backward step.

Reeza Hendricks of the Lions has, time and again, proven his worth in the shortest format of the game. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Zaahier Adams

Reeza Hendricks continues to defy the conventions of Twenty20 cricket, especially the version which is currently on show in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Perhaps that is why Hendricks, despite being ranked in the top 10 of the world’s leading T20 batters, is yet to make his bow in the show stopper of all franchise tournaments. But such is Hendricks’ class that you feel that it is much more their loss than his.

For, in every other competition, most recently the Pakistan Super League and CSA T20 Challenge, Hendricks has shown that brute force and power are not the sole essential characteristics for success in the shortest format.

His methods employing precision, touch, delicacy, timing and placement have proven to be equally effective. The fact that he performs his task with such chutzpah and elegance makes it even easier on the eye. And, crucially, his overall strike rate in the T20 Challenge of 140.12, while scoring 440 runs, means he takes no backward step.

Hendricks’ greater value is his ability to accurately assess conditions, thereby making the necessary adjustments, while his match awareness is often a game-changer. Just like it was on Sunday, after the Lions had lost three quick wickets in pursuit of the Dolphins’ 165/8 in the T20 Challenge final.

Hendricks’ engine was running smoothly, caressing the ball around the Wanderers with ease, until he quickly realised that a partnership was required for the Lions to remain on track.

Instead of keeping his foot on the pedal, Hendricks pulled up the handbrake to ultimately put together a match-winning unbroken 85-run stand with Wiaan Mulder. At no stage was he fazed that the Lions did not score a boundary from 50 to a 100 in their pursuit because he simply trusted his game plan, to finish unbeaten on 73 off 52 balls.

“They kept us honest during the middle overs. We really needed a partnership and not to lose a wicket,” Hendricks said.

“It was important to bat well up front. One of the top four needed to bat through and it happened to be me. I dropped a gear during that period because you can always catch up at the Wanderers.

“I have played a few games and would like to think that I have worked out a formula that works for me. The game is evolving, but I stick to what works for me and then assess the conditions and play accordingly.”

The Lions are certainly grateful to have Hendricks in their stable as the opener has often been their go-to man in domestic finals.

The 34-year-old has, however, not been afforded a similar degree of respect at the national team despite routinely coming to the aid of the Proteas when called upon. But in the same understated manner that Hendricks compiles his runs, he is not allowing the uncertainty of his position at the Proteas to cloud his thinking heading into the T20 World Cup in the US and Caribbean.

Instead, he simply stated that “it would be nice going into that with a bit of confidence having scored a bit of runs”.

Hendricks has shown at the Lions that “nice guys” can actually come first. Hopefully the Proteas can show similar faith in him.

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