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Cape Town – You get the feeling that Reeza Hendricks, for several years, has been one of those cricketers the South African selectors have teetered over.

Does he cut it at the top level? Or is he just more of a franchise “bully”?

That observation is borne out by the fact that the top-order batsman – who turns 29 on August 14, so hardly a rookie in his chosen career – had played 12 Twenty20 internationals scattered between November 2014 and the early-2018 home series against India.

Even those three matches against the Indians, who very much had South Africa‘s number in the limited-overs portion of their tour, sent out uncertain signals about Hendricks’s more regular potential for the Proteas.

After beginning with 70 at his recently-adopted home ground of the Wanderers, the former Knights stalwart tailed off a little with follow-ups of 26 (Centurion) and seven (Cape Town).

So simply back to square one? Back to “is he, isn‘t he”?

Well, no.

Instead, with a couple of holes emerging in their 50-overs batting plans – Rilee Rossouw going Kolpak, then the shockwave retirement of superstar AB de Villiers – Hendricks was a mildly surprise call-up to the ODI squad for the Sri Lankan tour.

I say “mildly” because the Kimberley-born player sports a consistently healthy List-A record back home, including 10 franchise/provincial tons, a top score of 181 and almost 4 500 runs in that landscape.

Bear in mind also that, in his last two first-class appearances for the Lions toward the end of last summer, he clubbed successive centuries against the Dolphins and Cobras in the Sunfoil Series.


Aiden Markram‘s sequence of negligible returns across the formats on tour opened up the No 3 berth for the lean, athletic-looking right-hander in game three at Pallekele on Sunday … and what a cash-in.

Hendricks‘ seldom less than crisp, enterprising 89-ball vigil saw him amass 102, the third South African to achieve a three-figure score on maiden ODI appearance – joining Colin Ingram and Temba Bavuma, and all within the last eight years.

The track was a belter, with precious little movement off the seam or noticeable turn but decent carry: Shaun Pollock went as far as to suggest in SuperSport commentary that it would be a good place for Sri Lanka to do some concerted prep for any tour of our shores (and they have one later in the 2018/19 campaign).

But that only takes a tiny bit away from the eye-opening weight of Hendricks‘s achievement.

He oozed maturity, lovely balance off both feet and a widespread variety of strokes: home-based analyst and former international Russel Arnold branded it “a perfect one-day knock”.

Nor could Hendricks be accused of any semblance of swollen-headedness or drop-off in concentration immediately after reaching the milestone as he was castled by the pretty swift Lahiru Kumara; Pollock aptly described the delivery as a “peach”.

The fluency of the debutant went a long way to ensuring that the Proteas, who seized an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series with another wide-margin triumph, produced one of their healthier, most rounded totals in ODIs (a formidable 363 for seven) in recent times after being sent in by Angelo Mathews.

A startlingly resurgent JP Duminy continued his prolific tour form with a blistering 92 (strike rate 131) and half-centuries from Hashim Amla and David Miller were barely less welcome.

The embattled ‘Lankans went like the proverbial bat out of hell at their target, the run rate seldom straying from around six or even seven per over, but regular loss of wickets ultimately crippled their spirited enough crack (285 all out in 45.2 overs) at the requirement.

With the batting department easily the least well-stocked of the Proteas‘ various departments in the ODI format, the stirring showing of Hendricks pushes him further up the ladder for a World Cup ticket in fewer than 10 months‘ time than he may even realise.

Of course, one dazzling innings doesn‘t – or shouldn‘t – represent an automatic “qualifier” to the premier jamboree for anybody; Hendricks seems level-headed enough to know that.

But he has also chosen a notably opportune time to stick up his hand, and with some matches against relatively moderate opposition on the short-term horizon – the rest of this series, then three ODIs when Zimbabwe visit SA in late September – there is a pretty good chance he can nail himself down even more securely …

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