CAPE TOWN – It is often said that a change is as good as a holiday. For Beuran Hendricks though, a change means the opportunity to work, to ply his trade … to put shoulder to the wheel.
For that’s all Hendricks, the five times-capped Proteas T20 left-arm fast bowler wants to do now that he’s swapped the Cape Cobras for the Highveld Lions on a permanent basis.
The past couple of years have been extremely frustrating for the 26-year-old paceman from Bellville in Cape Town.
Although off-field matters have gone swimmingly, with Hendricks recently marrying his long-time girlfriend and becoming a father in the process, his on-field commitments have been limited due to a variety of injuries and competition for places at the Cobras.
A career-threatening stress fracture back in 2014 severely dented the promising quick bowler’s progress while there have also been groin ailments since. These setbacks have caused many to forget that Hendricks smashed the national T20 domestic record with 28 wickets at 10.28 in the 2013-14 season, which earned him the opportunity to play in a World T20 semi-final in Dhaka for the Proteas and a lucrative Indian Premier League contract with the Kings XI Punjab the following season.
While Hendricks admits having learnt a great deal about his game and character during those heady times, that’s all consigned to history and stressed that he is virtually back at the start of his professional career again now that he’s moved up to the “Bullring”.
“There’s nothing greater than representing your country. Playing with guys like Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers … in a charged-up atmosphere in a big tournament such as the World T20. Equally, the IPL was a great experience. I never had many opportunities because the Kings XI also had Mitchell Johnson, but just being in the same dressingroom around those guys and playing the odd game gave me the belief that I can play at that level,” Hendricks told Independent Media.
“That belief was essential to hang to during those tough times when I was out with injury for it kept me going. It provided the motivation that I could come back and compete at that level again. Leaving the Cobras is a hard decision. It’s not easy leaving your home, your family, your friends. Cape Townand Newlands has always been my home. But Geoff (Toyana, Lions coach) gave me an opportunity to come on loan last season and it went okay because I was out on the park playing cricket again. That’s all I want to do. Giving my all out on the park and playing as much as possible.”
The loan move to the Lions certainly went better than “okay”. Despite the 2015/16 champions faltering in the defence of their Momentum One-Day Cup title by finishing just above the basement Cobras in fifth place, Hendricks still had a stellar campaign. Although playing two matches less than his teammates – due to the loan agreement not allowing him to play against the Cobras – Hendricks still closed off the season as the Lions’ leading wicket-taker in the competition with 14 scalps. It was just two wickets off the tournament’s chief wicket-taker Junior Dala of the Titans.
The One-Day Cup success was a continuation of the progress Hendricks showed in the Sunfoil Series too when he claimed his maiden five-wicket haul for his new franchise in the final game of the season against the championship-winning Knights.
This return to form and fitness – Hendricks played the entire 2016-17 season without suffering any injury ailments – has not gone unnoticed at national level. The selectors have monitored Hendricks closely during his comeback and have now rewarded him with a place in Shukri Conrad’s South Africa“A” squad for the upcoming four-day series against the England Lions.
“Thrilled to be back in the mix,” Hendricks enthused. “I really didn’t expect it all. But that’s why the move to the Lions has been so good for me already. I just want to play. And the Lions gave me the opportunity. Geoff and all the people at the Lions have made me feel so welcome.
“It’s going to be really exciting working with Shuks in the SA A side. He actually signed me at the Cobras all those years ago when I was still a laaitie. I never got to play for him because the coach at the Cobras changed the following season, so now to finally get the opportunity after all those years is something I am really looking forward to.”