Reeza Hendricks: Batters aiming to win games for Proteas at T20 World Cup

Proteas opener Reeza Hendricks found some form by scoring 43 against Nepal. Photo: AFP

Proteas opener Reeza Hendricks found some form by scoring 43 against Nepal. Photo: AFP

Published Jun 19, 2024


When Reeza Hendricks tied the knot with 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 whilst playing together for almost a decade at the Eagles-Knights in Bloemfontein.

But today, all pleasantries will have to be put aside when the Proteas go head-to-head with the United States in the opening Super Eight encounter of the ICC Men’s 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.

“We spent some time together now and we did speak about it… never ever thought that day would come,” Hendricks told the media on Tuesday.

“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 USA.

“It’s definitely going to be interesting playing against him.”

Hendricks, though, cannot afford to be distracted by emotions of any sort in the US encounter.

Although the stylish right-hander found some form against Nepal in the last group match, managing to compile 43 off 49 balls, he was still not at his fluent best.

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

With the top-order once again crumbling all around him, Hendricks opted to lay down the 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.

— Proteas Men (@ProteasMenCSA) June 18, 2024

“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.

“So, 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 what 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 onwards will only increase on the batters with the Proteas having some testing examinations after the American clash, with defending champions England and former champions West Indies lying 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 ru-scorer from the SA20 Season 2, Ryan Rickelton, champing at the bit for an opportunity.

Hendricks, though, claims that the feeling within 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,” he said.

“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.”