Future is now for the Proteas and rookie Hendricks
Beuran Hendricks, having arrived here this week from the indoor nets of Bishops in Cape Town, forms a big part of that. It is grossly unfair to expect a two-cap rookie, who replaced a legend of the modern game, to transform a Proteas World Cup campaign that is hanging by a thread.
But that’s Hendricks' lot. Take it or leave it. Fortunately he is approaching it in the right manner.
“When I got the call I didn’t know who I was replacing,” the left-arm seamer said. “Then I saw in the media it was Dale (Steyn), which is a massive blow.
“I’m not going to say I can fill his shoes because it’s Dale.
“But I come here with my own set of skills and my own ambitions in this competition. I’ve been preparing since I got the call to be on standby.
“It’s been about three weeks now, and I’ve got enough training in to come here and be prepared. It’s about making sure I can fight the good fight and make a contribution with the skills that I have.”
It is likely that Hendricks will be thrown into the melting pot immediately when the Proteas search for their first tournament win against the West Indies at the Hampshire Bowl on Monday.
Again it’s a daunting task. The Windies have some of the most explosive white-ball batsmen on the international circuit, with Chris “Universe Boss” Gayle the headline act up front.
Hendricks has actually had an up-close look at Gayle already this season, having played with the big Jamaican at the Jozi Stars in the Mzansi Super League. He will hope the lessons learnt in the Wanderers nets will stand him in good stead.
Equally, Hendricks brings an element that eluded this Proteas thus far in the United Kingdom. He is a serial winner. He has already been part of four championship winning teams this season, namely the Lions (4-Day Domestic Series and T20 Challenge), the Jozi Stars (MSL) and Mumbai Indians (IPL).
In fact, he beamed like a winner at the Hampshire Bowl. Perhaps it was the “dream come true” factor about actually joining up with the Proteas for his maiden World Cup experience, but there was just something different about him compared to the rest of his teammates.
“I am hoping to be the good luck the team needs,” Hendricks chirped. “It is a dream come true, even under the circumstances. It’s the biggest stage for me. We are three matches down so it’s probably sitting deep with the guys. I am feeling the hurt as well but the tournament is not over.
“It’s been a good year for me personally and for the teams I have been with this year, so let’s hope I can make it five (trophies) out of five. I’m looking to win.”
Hendricks is likely to take the new ball with Kagiso Rabada against the Windies due to Lungi Ngidi still suffering from a hamstring strain sustained last Sunday against Bangladesh at The Oval.
It will possibly be at the expense of left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who went wicketless and conceded 54 runs off his nine overs in the six-wicket defeat to India last Wednesday.
Although Shamsi has been successful against the Windies before, and is a regular pick in the Caribbean Premier League, the Proteas seem now to have settled on playing two all-rounders after Chris Morris’ dominant display against Virat Kohli’s men with bat and ball.