Reeza Hendricks looks to rekindle Pallekele magic in Colombo
SA batsman holds record for fastest ODI debut century, in Sri Lanka three years ago
Kimberley-born Reeza Hendricks holds the world record for the fastest ODI hundred by a debutant, having achieved the milestone against Sri Lanka in Pallekele three years ago.
Hendricks needed only 88 balls to smash a sizzling century on his debut that set up the Proteas’ series-clinching 78-run win over Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI of the series in August 2018.
But the 32-year-old No 3 batter has been struggling for consistency ever since, and found himself in and out of the ODI team and eventually dropped in March 2019.
He got back in the team in February 2020 for the three-match ODI home series against England and struggled with scores of 6, 35 and 11. He lost his place again.
The Lions top-order regular returned to the team again at the weekend, in the three-match series against Sri Lanka in Colombo, and will be searching for consistency and to rekindle his Pallekele magic.
“I started well in the first couple of ODIs I played and probably did not do as well as I would have liked and obviously got left out for a quite a period,” Hendricks said of his struggles with consistency.
After missing out in the opening ODI match as the Proteas lost by 14 runs in a dramatic end to the match, Hendricks got the opportunity in the second, smashing a brisk 51 off 54 balls and sharing a 96-run partnership with centurion and match- winner Janneman Malan [121 off 135] as the team won by 67 runs.
“To get an opportunity in the last game is something I have been working on to get back into the team.”
With the series tied at 1-1 going into the decider at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday (11am SA time), Hendricks will be keen to rekindle the memories of August 2018, if he gets picked.
The Proteas seemed to have the opening match in the bag on September 2 before they lost it at the death, but regrouped and showed improvement in the second match.
How do the Proteas make sure the demons that troubled them in the first match do not emerge again?
“I think it is just a mindset,” said Hendricks. “Even in the first game the boys played really well. We came up short but it was a really good team performance.
“We maybe leaked a bit in the field, where 15 or 20 runs were too many, and we could not pull through with the bat in the first game. But it was a good game. It is just a mindset going into the third game and we will obviously love to play our best game there and come out on top.”
Hendricks was hardly troubled and quickly adapted to the pitch conditions as he scored his third ODI half-century in the last match to add to his only ton.
The three-match ODI series forms part of the crucial 2023 Cricket World Cup Super League points table where the Proteas are desperate for points.