JOHANNESBURG – Six hours after learning that he’d been omitted from South Africa’s World Cup squad, Reeza Hendricks shoved the selectors’ decision right back in their faces at the Wanderers on Thursday night.
It was Hendricks who lost out on a spot to Aiden Markram for the back-up batsman spot in the 15-man party that will head to England next month.
Markram’s ability to bat anywhere between one and six in the order was deemed more valuable than Hendricks’ fluidity and elegance at the top of the order.
According to the national selection convenor Linda Zondi, Hendricks just didn’t do enough to knock an out-of-sorts Amla out of the squad.
Hendricks would have felt very disappointed when he turned up at the Wanderers to play for the Lions against the Titans in the CSA T20 Challenge a few hours after that announcement.
His dismay would not have been helped by two of his teammates, Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius, both being confirmed as England-bound.
This CSA T20 Challenge is also proving difficult for the players to get up for, but if Hendricks’ World Cup disappointment can be redirected towards opposition bowlers, then his Lions teammates won’t be complaining.
Thursday’s was a beautifully measured and paced innings as the Lions scored 181/4 off their 20 overs.
He pulled crisply when the Titans dropped it short, while the highlight of his innings was a spectacular lofted drive for six off the back foot against Junior Dala in the sixth over.
Hendricks did seem determined to make a point and would do so emphatically, eventually being dismissed in the final over of the innings for 77 off 61 balls, a knock that included six fours and two sixes.
The majority of that innings was spent in partnership with Rassie van der Dussen, who this season had moved passed Hendricks in the World Cup pecking order, by scoring more consistently.
Van der Dussen produced another illustration of his fine form of the last few seasons, moving efficiently and timing the ball perfectly on his way to a fine innings of 85.
He hit three fours and two sixes, both thumped over the mid-wicket boundary.
He never looked rushed even though his strike rate was a prodigious 180.85. He can only hope he maintains this form for the next few months.
Together, the Lions pair added 151 for the second wicket a new record in this competition, eclipsing the previous mark of 145, one of the holders of that mark – Hashim Amla.
It would prove to be enough to beat the three-time defending champions, who could only muster one substantial partnership – 56 runs for the third wicket between Theunis de Bruyn (42) and Diego Rosier (23).
Nono Pongolo was the best of the Lions bowlers, picking up 3/29 as the Titans finished on 162/9.
The Lions next face the Knights in Kimberley on Saturday, while the Titans head to Pietermaritzburg the same day to play the Dolphins.@shockerhess