Pleasantries on hold for old Bloem buddies

REEZA Hendricks will be facing his old mate Shadley van Schalkwyk when the Proteas play the US today. AFP

REEZA Hendricks will be facing his old mate Shadley van Schalkwyk when the Proteas play the US today. AFP

Published Jun 19, 2024


Zaahier Adams

WHEN Reeza Hendricks tied the knot to his long-time love Lee-Ann, he wanted Shadley van Schalkwyk by his side as his best man.

It is a friendship that goes way beyond the cricket field, where it was cultivated while playing together for almost a decade at the Eagles/Knights in Bloemfontein.

But today, all pleasantries will be put aside when the Proteas go head-to-head with the US in the opening Super Eight encounter of the T20 World Cup at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

It is almost inconceivable, particularly to Hendricks, that he will be facing up to his good mate Van Schalkwyk, who now plays in the stars and stripes and sings The Star-Spangled Banner after the medium-pacer came to “check out the cricket scene” in the US four years ago.

SHADLEY van Schalkwyk of the US. AFP

“We spent some time together now and we did speak about it … never ever thought that day would come,” Hendricks said yesterday.

“It's quite funny. We actually had a good conversation the other day about the situation. I think it's quite cool.

“I wonder if he is going to sing the national anthems of both South Africa and the US. It’s definitely going to be interesting playing against him.”

Hendricks, though, cannot afford to be distracted by emotions in the US encounter. Although the stylish right-hander found some form against Nepal in the last group match with 43 off 49 balls, he was still not at his fluent best.

After a nightmarish three outings on a seaming wicket in New York, Hendricks and the rest of the Proteas top order were greeted with a burner in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which the Nepalese quartet of spinners exploited to perfection.

With the top order again crumbling all around him, Hendricks opted to drop anchor in the hope of building up a defendable total.

The 35-year-old is, therefore, hoping that the surface in Antigua will finally be batter-friendly in order to rebuild some of the form lost over the past fortnight.

“It has been challenging. Obviously as a batter, you want to go out there and score runs and then you come on to wickets that we’ve been playing on,” he said.

“It can be frustrating, but it seems that’s the nature of the wickets we’ve been playing on, so we have to be okay.

“We would have loved to score more than we did. Hopefully we can get on to better pitches so that the batters can score some runs and win games for the team.”

The pressure from here on will only increase on the batters with the Proteas having some testing examinations after the US clash with defending champions England and former champions West Indies laying in wait for the remainder of the Super Eight phase.

But it is not only Hendricks who is feeling the heat with the spotlight firmly also on his opening partner Quinton de Kock and captain Aiden Markram, who have been equally lean on runs in this tournament.

De Kock’s place is certainly under scrutiny, particularly with the leading run scorer from SA20 Season 2 Ryan Rickelton champing at the bit for an opportunity.

Hendricks, though, claims that the feeling in the dressing room remains upbeat that the current crop of batters can turn the corner.

“It’s not ideal, but the chats are still fairly positive. We are figuring out ways to deal with it and how to go about getting the runs on the board.

“We obviously know the wickets have not been ideal, for the batters especially, but the positivity to feed off each other is still there.

“Personally, I am still feeling good. The mindset is still there and the way I have been batting in the nets, there is a lot of positivity I can take from there.”