Hendricks adopts philosophical approach ahead of World Cup

REEZA Hendricks of the Lions during the 2024 CSA T20 match against Titans. | BackpagePix

REEZA Hendricks of the Lions during the 2024 CSA T20 match against Titans. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 6, 2024


REEZA Hendricks may be excused if he isn’t overly excited that a T20 World Cup is just around the corner.

That’s simply due to past experiences, where despite being the in-form batter, he has had to play second fiddle for a myriad of reasons.

It’s a situation the 34-year-old has learnt to deal with over the years, and seemingly has adopted a philosophical approach of “that’s cricket being cricket”.

But surely this time should be different when the Proteas head to the United States of America and the Caribbean in July, especially with Hendricks having struck seven half-centuries, including four in a row, in his last 16 T20I innings?

“I don’t know,” Hendricks said, in response to whether he finally feels like the incumbent at the top of the Proteas’ T20I batting order.

“But I would like to think so. I’ve had a couple of good runs in the last series. I would love to think so going into this World Cup.”

Hendricks is technically impeccable and has the talent to go with it. His cover drive, where anticipation and timing and footwork and bat speed all instinctively merge, takes one’s breath away every time he plays it, as does that sublime back-foot punch.

He is equally adept against both pace and spin, and rarely looks rushed – the sign of a classy batter – at the crease.

All of these are not necessarily attributes of a modern T20 batter though, where smashing the ball across the line along with inventiveness to play over the shoulder is the prerequisite.

Yet Hendricks has formulated a hugely successful T20 career, where more often than not he is among the leading run-scorers in any competition he plays.

And this was evident again in the recent Pakistan Super League, where he finally gained recognition for his international exploits by earning a deal with the Multan Sultans.

Hendricks was an instant hit at the PSL, where he amassed 304 runs in just eight matches.

It was particularly pleasing after a rather quiet SA20 Season 2 with the Joburg Kings at the start of the year, which saw him drop down to No 3 to accommodate Leus du Plooy.

He has since transferred his PSL form to the CSA T20 Challenge, where Hendricks struck successive half-centuries for the Lions over the past week.

“It was a bit quiet in SA20, but it’s only a matter of time before it clicks again,” Hendricks said.

“It is nice to have a bit of momentum on my side again, which happened at the PSL and now taking it into the CSA T20 Challenge.

“The T20 World Cup is not too far away now and it’s never a bad thing to go into a tournament with a bit of momentum and confidence behind your name.

“Always nice to get a few to know where your game is at. Hopefully it can continue through and at the World Cup.”

The T20 World Cup in the US and Caribbean is expected to be a run-fest with the on-going IPL smashing batting glass ceilings virtually every game.

Totals in the opening six-over PowerPlay have sky-rocketed, which has led to teams posting scores in excess of 270.

The IPL has certainly forced coaches, and particularly top-order batters, to re-evaluate their game plans and strategies.

Hendricks, who has a career-strike of 130, has not let the batting explosions at the IPL alter his approach though.

“I try not to focus too much on that. I obviously have a way of going about my business and which I have had success with throughout my career,” he said.

“I have a plan about how I go about things. But you can’t ignore that the scores are quite high. The game is evolving and you are looking to improve and find that extra percent to get better.

“It is also though conditions dependent because when it’s a really good wicket, you do look to try and go out there and express yourself, which the guys have been showing in the IPL.

“So, if we do get on a good wicket and it’s our day, I would like to think that I would do a similar thing.”

It seems like after all these years Hendricks has figured out and is very comfortable in his own skin. And that can only be a good thing for the Proteas leading into the T20 World Cup.