If Temba Bavuma’s feeling weird; and it don't look good. Who you gonna call?
Reeza Hendricks may soon earn the nickname “Ghostbuster” within the South African cricket team’s dressing room. Why?
Because whenever the Proteas find themselves in a crisis, they tend to call Hendricks. Two years ago at the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai, Hendricks was summoned into action after Quinton de Kock’s late withdrawal due to Cricket SA’s instruction for the entire team to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
At least, on that occasion, Hendricks was informed on the bus en route to the stadium. On Saturday, in the crunch ICC World Cup clash against defending champions England in Mumbai, the call came even later.
With five minutes left to the toss, Proteas captain Bavuma was ruled out due to illness and Hendricks was told to get ready in a hurry.
Such rushed circumstances would get the better of most cricketers but Hendricks is accustomed to overcoming adversity throughout his international career.
In Dubai, the stylish right-handed struck a composed 39 off 30 balls to set up an eight-wicket victory over the Windies and went even better in Mumbai. After a tentative start, Hendricks unleashed his full attacking repertoire, which included delightful lofted drives over extra cover, to set the platform for South Africa’s eventual mammoth total of 399/7.
Heinrich Klaasen (109) and Marco Jansen (75*) may have earned the plaudits for their late onslaught but it was Hendricks’ 85 off 79 balls (9x4, 3x6), in partnership with Rassie van der Dussen (60), that had England toiling in the mid-day heat.
Stand-in captain Aiden Markram was certainly full of high praise of Hendricks’ efforts.
“Really great knock from Reeza. He has been around for a long time. That helped. He has been practising every day. Got rewarded today,” Markram said.
It is, however, most unfortunate that despite Hendricks’ brilliant contribution to the record 229-run victory over England will not enable him to keep his place in the Proteas’ starting XI should Bavuma recover time from illness ahead of tomorrow’s match-up against Bangladesh.
Bavuma is the Proteas skipper and although he’s only managed 59 in three World Cup innings thus far, he does average 63.27 this year and has played an influential role during the qualifying stages with three centuries. But this situation is nothing new to Hendricks. He’s experienced such disappointment all before.
Prior to the 2019 World Cup in the United Kingdom, Hendricks, who had struck a century on his ODI debut in the build-up, was locked in a shoot-out with Hashim Amla.
But despite the veteran’s best years seemingly consigned to the past, the national selectors opted for Amla’s greater experience.
It was a bitter pill to swallow but even greater disappointment was to follow. Hendricks was in the form of his life last season, stringing together a record four successive T20I halfcenturies, which eventually led to him being awarded the Cricket SA T20 Player of the Season.
But all these achievements were still not enough to get him selected to the Proteas starting XI for the
T20 World Cup in Australia, where a horribly out-of-form Bavuma was preferred instead on the basis that he was the elected captain of the team.
Hendricks won’t be perturbed though. At least not on the outside. He will continue “training every day, making sure I am on top of my game, controlling what I can and making sure I wait patiently for the opportunity to come”.
And as Hendricks has shown before, he certainly will be ready when the call does come again.