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Ken Borland

Fringe Reeza says he has missed some opportunities by trying too hard 0

Posted on July 04, 2022 by Ken

Reeza Hendricks has been one of those perennial fringe Proteas batsmen, often chosen in squads but seldom getting a lengthy run of games, and he feels that he has missed out on some opportunities through his international career simply because he tried too hard.

For a sportsman to make it at international level, they need to have a massive hunger to play in that high-stakes arena, so one can understand someone on the fringes being desperate to grab whatever opportunities they get to play and impress. But that desperation can sometimes be counter-productive, like someone who is drowning frantically trying to grab their rescuer and pulling them both down into the depths.

Having made his Proteas debut in 2014, in a T20 series in Australia, Hendricks has played 24 ODIs and 40 T20s since then. So an average of eight matches a year, which neatly captures his status as a nearly-man for South Africa – a regular pick but not really a regular starter.

Now 32, Hendricks is no longer fazed, he is used to having to make the most of limited chances.

“It’s just how my career has gone,” Hendricks told Saturday Citizen this week. “You just have to find a way of dealing with it. I’m in a good space now, whatever happens, I will just always be ready.

“My attitude has changed from a couple of years ago though. When I was younger, I was trying my hardest to break into the team and nail down a spot. But the more you think about it, the more pressure you put on yourself and you don’t do as well because of it.

“I obviously want more opportunity, but I don’t feel more pressure now when I get it. I just try and take every opportunity I get and my mindset is to try and be the best I can be on that day.

“And if things go good or bad, such is the game,” Hendricks said.

The Central Gauteng Lions star played just one ODI last season, scoring 6 against the Netherlands at Centurion, but he was amidships in the T20 World Cup in the UAE, sadly struggling as he scored just 17 runs off 25 balls in the three matches he played.

It is probably fair to say that Hendricks took a while to get going last summer. At domestic level, he was solid, if not spectacular.

In four-day cricket, he averaged 42 for the Lions with 294 runs in seven innings, but there was only one century and one half-century. In the T20 Cup he averaged 28 at a strike-rate of 122, but only passed fifty once.

But the top-order batsman ripped it up at the end of the summer.

His return to his best came in the One-Day Cup final. Going into that match against the Northerns Titans at Centurion, Hendricks had made just 110 runs in six innings.

But he spearheaded an extraordinary victory for the underdogs, lashing a magnificent 157 off just 136 balls as the Lions recovered from 214/6 to chase down 319. It was one of the greatest innings in South African domestic 50-over cricket and a timely reminder of his class.

Suddenly, the selectors’ decision to keep him on the national contracted list made perfect sense, and Hendricks then went on to stroke two more centuries for SA A in Zimbabwe. Shortly thereafter, he was named in the Proteas squad for next month’s T20 series in India.

“I wasn’t focused on making a statement,” Hendricks assured despite there definitely being whispers around South African cricket that maybe his international days were over. “I just wanted to go about my business and try contribute to the team.

“In the One-Day Cup final, we needed someone to stand up. In the build-up, I felt that there was one big knock just around the corner, but I didn’t know it would be a really big one. I just tried to stay in the present moment and then cash in.

“So I was in a good space and then able to capitalise on my form, having a good run for SA A. That tour obviously helped when it came to selection. I always want to keep knocking on the door, put my name in the hat.

“Before that, it was not a bad season, I felt I had been fairly decent. I went about my job quietly, although I didn’t score as many runs as I would have liked. But then the last bit was really good,” Hendricks said.

Back on-song and eager to show the Proteas they can rely on him whenever they need him, Hendricks will call on his experience to keep reminding the South African public of just how classy a batsman he remains.

“I think my understanding of my game is a lot better now and I’m quite comfortable with how to approach situations and different conditions, the different game-plans that are required,” Hendricks said.

The Kimberley product will be out to show he is not on the slippery slope down towards the twilight of his career, but rather at his prime as a batsman, with much to offer the Proteas.

Bok resting protocols allow Sharks fringe players to cash in 0

Posted on June 10, 2021 by Ken

Springbok resting protocols will allow numerous Sharks fringe players to cash in on some lengthy playing opportunity when a much-changed team travels to Johannesburg to take on the Lions in their Rainbow Cup match on Saturday.

Coach Sean Everitt on Thursday announced a team with 10 changes to the starting line-up that went down to the Stormers a fortnight ago. That includes a new front row, the return of Hyron Andrews at lock, two new loose forwards and four changes to the backline, one of which is the return of Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi.

With the Currie Cup confirmed to start on June 18 and the Rainbow Cup final being played the next day, as well as the Sharks set to lose a large number of players to the Springbok squad, the jostling for starting spots in the team is increasing.

“The selection is very much about supporting the Springboks’ resting protocols, but it’s a good opportunity for other guys who we may be working with for a lengthy period, maybe until December. We do have the players to cover and most of them have been in the 23-man squad anyway, this is not a young and inexperienced team. It’s just starting is a different role for them.

“The matchday squad is not that different to the one against the Stormers [15/23] and it’s amazing the difference it makes to morale when everyone knows they’re going to get a shot. There has been good energy, a lot of excitement and attention in training this week. We know we have great depth, we are a vastly improved squad and the more the exposure the better the players will be for it,” Everitt said on Thursday.

Apart from resting protocols, Covid is also a massive factor in rugby today and Everitt’s plans of giving his first-choice front row of Fez Mbatha, Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit a complete rest this week were dashed when his third-choice trio of Khwezi Mona, Michael Kumbirai and Dan Jooste were all in contact with someone in the Toyota Invitation XV who tested positive after their friendly match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend.

It means Mbatha, Nche and Du Toit will have to sit on the bench on Saturday, and against a rock-solid Lions scrum, one would not bet against them having to come on and play a key role if the Sharks are to maintain their challenge for the Rainbow Cup title.

Sharks team: Anthony Volmink, Yaw Penxe, Werner Kok, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi, Manie Libbok, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Henco Venter (c), James Venter, Hyron Andrews, JJ van der Mescht, Wiehahn Herbst, Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench – Fez Mbatha, Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit, Ruben van Heerden, Thembelani Bholi, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Jeremy Ward.

Proteas ripped amidships by withdrawals torpedoes 2

Posted on April 10, 2021 by Ken

Temba Bavuma’s hopes of starting his Proteas captaincy tenure with a series win were scuttled like a ship being hit amidships by multiple torpedoes when six of his first-choice starting XI were unavailable for the deciding match at Centurion, but it is always good to see what the fringe players can do out in the middle.

Unfortunately, South Africa’s depth would appear to be of rather middling quality at the moment. Especially in the pace bowling department.

Kagiso Rabada was classy as ever and although he only took a couple of wickets, his accuracy was such that his economy rate of 4.70 was the best for any seamer in the series. Lungi Ngidi had a poor series, but he has produced the goods many times before in white-ball cricket, so it should just be considered an aberration.

Anrich Nortje was a revelation, bowling with tremendous aggression and control, and the way he rips batsmen out in the middle overs is crucial for the Proteas. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a ready-made replacement for him yet in what bowling coach Charl Langeveldt described as the “enforcer” role.

Andile Phehlukwayo was relied on to bowl at the death, with mixed success. He did take five wickets, but finished as only a little bit less expensive than Ngidi; the all-rounder bowled some excellent overs, but there were some rubbish ones as well.

One big positive in terms of the attack, though, is that Keshav Maharaj is hot on the heels of Tabraiz Shamsi as the first-choice spinner. Slow left-arm orthodox may not be as sexy as Shamsi’s mystical wrist-spin, but Maharaj showed in his outstanding performance in the third ODI that tremendous accuracy allied with teasing flight and changes of pace make him a very effective limited-overs bowler as well.

The moment Bavuma probably regrets most in the series was when he called on Jon-Jon Smuts to bowl the penultimate over in the Centurion decider. The left-arm spinner had gone well up to that point, conceding just 42 runs in his seven overs, but Hasan Ali deposited him on the banks at SuperSport Park four times in an over that cost 25 and took Pakistan past 300 and enough for victory.

Smuts is the sort of gutsy cricketer that typifies the Eastern Cape’s make-a-plan, find-a-way attitude, and he is most certainly more than the sum of all his talents. He has done well for the Proteas in ODI cricket, averaging 45 with the bat and having an economy rate of 5.46 with the ball. But the time has probably come to call on George Linde, the left-arm spinner and hard-hitting batsman who has done so well for the Cape Cobras, and for South Africa whenever he has had the opportunity.

Coach Mark Boucher also spoke about the need for another left-handed batsman in the batting line-up, and Linde certainly fits the bill.

The batting as a whole looks in better shape and the middle-order is surely settled now with Bavuma steering the ship at three, along with Rassie van der Dussen at four and then David Miller and Kyle Verreynne in the finishing roles.

Heinrich Klaasen has not really set the world alight since being Player of the Series against Australia last year, and Verreynne, with two half-centuries and 163 runs in his four innings, deserves an extended chance now, having shown he has the temperament for international cricket.

Janneman Malan is another of the replacement batsmen who should keep his place. Aiden Markram has just not been able to capitalise on how damn good he has looked at the crease and an average of 25.33 for the series pretty much sums up his ODI career thus far. Malan, meanwhile, has put up the numbers – an average of 74 and a strike-rate of 89 in his four ODI innings – and those are figures that should not be ignored.

The other big positive from a batting point of view was the return to form of Phehlukwayo. His innings of 29 and 54 at Centurion were not enough to secure victory for the Proteas, but they were exactly the sort of contributions the team are looking for from their all-rounder.

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