Reeza Hendricks stamped himself as a new contender for the national team’s opening berth as his splendid century carried South Africa A to 287 for six in their final limited-overs match against the England Lions at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday.
Hendricks and Dean Elgar formed a wonderful partnership up front as they added 149 for the first wicket in 28 overs after SA A were sent in to bat.
What was most impressive about their stand was the way they married watchfulness with an ability to work the ball around and keep the scoreboard ticking over.
While Elgar fell for a determined 66 off 74 balls, Hendricks went on to score 107 off 128 deliveries, with 10 fours and a six, before being bowled by Tim Bresnan with the total on 210 in the 39th over.
The England Lions were on top from that moment on, claiming three more wickets and it was only thanks to a fiery 35 not out off 20 balls from Chris Morris that SA A were able to post 287, when something over 300 was certainly on the cards.
Hendricks went to his half-century first – his third of the year – off just 59 balls with seven fours.
Elgar reached his half-century six overs later, although he took two fewer deliveries, but his demise came when he tried to slog-sweep leg-spinner Adil Rashid, but could only top-edge a catch to deep midwicket.
Hendricks brought up his second century of the series in the batting powerplay with a beautifully balanced and controlled flick off his pads off left-arm seamer Harry Gurney for his 11th four, but an over later, SA A lost their second wicket.
Theunis de Bruyn had breezed to 29 off 25 balls, as he and Hendricks added a run-a-ball 53, but then chanced his arm once too often against the impressive Jack Brooks and was bowled.
Brooks was the golden arm for the England Lions on Thursday as he also bowled Stiaan van Zyl for 21 and then claimed a return catch off Khaya Zondo (7) as the SA A innings just faded away.
Bresnan claimed the wicket of Hendricks in the 39th over, hitting the middle stump as the 25-year-old tried to drive through the on-side.
Gurney added the soft wicket of Dane Vilas (8), cutting to point, and it was only the big-hitting Morris, smiting three fours and clearing the boundary twice, that lifted SA A in the last handful of overs.
Brooks was the best of the touring bowlers, finishing with three for 55, including two for 18 in his last three overs at the death.