Proteas yo-yo man Reeza Hendricks just ‘wants to be ready’ when opportunities come

Proteas opener Reeza Hendricks acknowledges the crowd following his knock in the second T20I against India at St. George’s Park. Picture: Rogan Ward / Reuters

Proteas opener Reeza Hendricks acknowledges the crowd following his knock in the second T20I against India at St. George’s Park. Picture: Rogan Ward / Reuters

Published Dec 14, 2023


The name of any T20 International batter who has more career runs than one of the pioneers of the format, AB de Villiers, should be on everyone’s lips, let alone a batter that has scored those runs in 19 fewer career innings.

Reeza Hendricks owns such a T20I record in relation to the former Proteas captain.

However, the stylish right-hander has flown under the radar in almost a decade since he made his T20I debut in 2014.

No South African batter has scored more runs in a three-match T20I series than Hendricks’ 180, at an average of 60, in England last year, where he scored three half-centuries, striking at over 155.

That was just before the T20 World Cup in Australia, and despite his form, Hendricks found himself carrying drinks – as he did for most of the recently concluded ODI World Cup in India.

Through it all, Hendricks takes his chances with both hands, as he did in one of his two innings in the ODI World Cup, a brisk 85 off 75 balls against England.

Or earlier this week in Gqeberha, where Hendricks top-scored with a 27-ball 49 in the five-wicket T20 victory over India.

How does Hendricks maintain his impressive performances, despite being one of the first players to take a back seat when a change is made in the team?

“I try and stay as positive as I can,” Hendricks told the media after smashing eight boundaries and a six against a strong Indian bowling attack at St George’s Park on Tuesday night.

“The big thing for me is to control what I can and try to be ready when the opportunity does come. That’s my mindset and how I approach it.

“I managed to get an opportunity again, so it was good to be out in the park. When the opportunity does come, I try and perform to the best of my ability. It’s quite simple in that regard.”

Looking at how the Proteas T20 team is taking shape, with coach Rob Walter moving on from certain players, Hendricks might just see himself a regular in the side and get an extended run as the 2024 T20 World Cup looms.

First up is tonight’s series decider against the Indians at the Wanderers in Johannesburg (5pm start).

The 34-year-old understands his role at the top of the order and most importantly, understands the whole blueprint of the batting unit in the T20 format.

“There’s been a lot of chats on how to approach it. Basically, the T20 game allows you to play freely and express yourself,” Hendricks explained.

“I think that conversation is definitely driven by our coach Rob and our batting coach JP (Duminy). It’s just (up to) us as players to go out there and execute it.

“As openers, we have to go out there and assess what the conditions are like and how it’s playing … then we can set the tone from there. That’s the way we want to approach it.

“It’s really important to, even in a shortened game, set the tone and set the base for the middle-order guys to come in and finish it. That’s generally our thought process and how we try to go about it.”

The batting unit will get an opportunity to further put their blueprint to the test tonight, where South Africa will hope to clinch the series 2-0 ahead of Sunday’s first ODI against the Indians, also at the Wanderers (10am start).