After De Kock exit, Hendricks gets extended Proteas run
After many years as a fringe player, Reeza Hendricks will be looking to make use of the opportunity
Reeza Hendricks is to get a prolonged opportunity at the top of the Proteas ODI batting line-up.
In the past few seasons, Hendricks, 34, has been used as backup at the top of the batting order, but the ODI retirement of Quinton de Kock has freed up space for the Lions right-handed batter.
After so many years as a fringe player behind others in the pecking order, Hendricks will be looking to use the opportunity to play consistently and add significantly to the 31 ODIs and 54 T20Is he has accumulated since his international debut in a T20 series against Australia in 2014.
At the 2023 World Cup in India Hendricks played two matches against Bangladesh and England and scored a combined 97 runs. Before the semifinal, with Temba Bavuma admitting he was not 100% fit and out of form, it was Hendricks’ inclusion being clamoured for as a replacement, given his solid 85 off 75 balls in a big total of 399/7 in the 229-run win against England.
Proteas coach Rob Walter stuck with his captain who made a duck as the top order collapsed to Josh Hazlewood’s virtuoso use of humid conditions.
During the 3-2 ODI series win over Australia in SA in September, Hendricks opened the batting with De Kock in the last two matches in the absence of Bavuma.
Bavuma had opened with De Kock in the first three matches with Hendricks coming in at No 3 in the third ODI.
Now De Kock is no longer in the picture, white ball coach Walter says Hendricks will be backed all the way at the top of the batting, possibly with Bavuma.
“He’s got a bright future for the Proteas,” Walter said. “Quinton de Kock has just retired and Reeza Hendricks is the next man in line. He is going to play more and more for SA. He knows that because I have communicated with him.
“Good teams have good players sitting on the bench and that’s just the way it is. When Reeza gets his turn, he’ll be afforded the same in terms of getting opportunities and getting backed the whole way.”
Walter said good players having to be sidelined, or wait their turn “doesn’t worry me too much”.
“At the end of the day we are a unit, we work together and the same could be said about Tabraiz Shamsi who came in and gave a man-of-the-match performance but didn’t play the next game. It’s a horses for courses thing but also how the unit operates.”
He might have added all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo who in his only appearance in India smacked 39 off 37 balls to close a nervy chase against Afghanistan relatively comfortably in a win by five wickets.
A number of key Proteas batters such as Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller are ageing and Walter said the transition period has already started.
Hendricks still seems to have the energy to play a bridging role in a tricky transition period for the Proteas’ top order as youngsters such as Dewald Brevis continue to find their international feet.
“It started already in the West Indies, where we gave some guys opportunities in the 50-over format and against Australia in the T20s where we gave some younger guys opportunities,” Walter said. “Our plan is in place, we will continue to give guys opportunities even though we are short of international cricket between now and the Champions Trophy [in Pakistan in February 2025], with only 11 50-over games.
“We’ll manage those players well and make sure we continue to give guys chances where we can but also giving guys rest opportunities. We want our best players to play as long as they possibly can for the Proteas.”
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