With Quinton de Kock rested and Hashim Amla injured, Reeza Hendricks will get a prime chance to further his credentials for the Proteas opening spot against Zimbabwe.
Yes, it is “only” Zimbabwe, but a few big knocks would do him the world of confidence, and also put selection convener Linda Zondi’s mind at ease that he has someone who could slot in at the top of the order.
Of course, AB de Villiers’ retirement opens up the No 4 position, and it is not inconceivable that Amla could drop down to No 3 and captain Faf du Plessis – who is also missing the Zimbabwe series through injury – to four on the road to next year’s World Cup.
So, what better place for Hendricks – who made a hundred on his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in August – to impress than on the ground he made his name on, the Diamond Oval in Kimberley, where the first clash against Zimbabwe takes place on Sunday (10am start).
“I happened to have a good start to the ODI career. In saying that, it is only a start. The three-match series against Zimbabwe is another opportunity to put in a few more good performances. I am taking it series by series, and hopefully I can achieve that goal of going to the World Cup,” Hendricks said on Friday.
“It is definitely going to be a special moment walking out here at the Diamond Oval representing the Proteas in the green and gold.
“This is my home town, this is where my cricket started from a very young age. I represented Griqualand West in all age-groups, so it will be a proud moment walking out on the field on Sunday in Proteas colours in front of my family and friends.”
The 29-year-old Hendricks has been around a long time and boasts a List A domestic average of 37.08, with 11 centuries.
He goes hard at the opening bowlers, and is hoping for another good pitch in Kimberley that will allow him to play his wide array of shots.
“It’s normally a good one-day wicket, expecting the same again. Batter-friendly I think… hoping at least! But generally, a very good wicket to bat on,” he said.
“It (mood in the Proteas camp) has been good. Guys have been preparing well over the last few days in Johannesburg. We still have a couple of days to prepare, and we are looking forward to getting started on Sunday.”
#CSAnews He's back to where it all started. @reezahendricks says he is relishing the opportunity to play for the Proteas at his home ground on Sunday https://t.co/gn8oAAsHX5 #SAvZIM pic.twitter.com/KJB7cKtwYq