CAPE TOWN – Every World Cup cycle throws up a player that only just misses out on the golden ticket.
Four years ago it was Ryan McLaren. The Knights all-rounder had been a Proteas squad member, and even played the vast majority of matches prior to the 2015 Australasian jamboree. But ultimately he never made the cut when the final 15-man squad was trimmed.
This year that same fate may befall Reeza Hendricks. After an impressive ODI debut where he struck a splendid century against Sri Lanka, Hendricks has not managed to consistently string a run of scores together.
After 18 ODI’s, the maiden ton remains Hendricks sole three-figure score as he has worked his way towards 455 runs at an average of 26.76. It has not gone unnoticed.
“I think the ODI series gave us a good look at some players,” Proteas coach Ottis Gibson said yesterday. “Obviously the result was quite pleasing in terms of momentum, confidence, that sort of thing.
We saw (Anrich) Nortje come in and do really well. We’ve seen Rassie (van der Dussen) for a while. We would have liked some more performances from other players. I am sure Reeza would have liked to score some more runs.”
Hendricks seems to be in a three-way battle with Aiden Markam and Hashim Amla for two batting spots. Although Markram has an almost identical ODI record – 503 runs at an average of 29.58 – the former SA Under-19 skipper is currently striking form at an opportune time.
Not only did he plunder two consecutive centuries for the Titans in the Momentum One-Day Cup, but he also stroked a career-best 67 not out in the final ODI last Saturday.
Equally, Hendricks has not done enough to push Amla out of contention, despite the veteran being out of action due to family commitments.
“First and foremost, you’d want to pick on form,” Gibson said. “But if there’s no form to go with then you have to look at reputation, I guess.
“That’s something we will have to look at. Obviously, with regards to Hash, he hasn’t played any cricket in a long time, so when we discuss a team that will certainly be one of the things to consider.”
Gibson, though, did not shut the door on Hendricks – or any other player for that matter – entirely. South Africa start a three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka at Newlands this evening (6pm) and a couple of sparkling performances could still influence national convenor Linda Zondi and Co.
“So there’s still an opportunity for someone who comes in and does something unbelievable in the next couple of games,” Gibson said.
Proteas squad (for 1st T20I against Sri Lanka):
Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.