Reeza Hendricks has become a default depth option for the Proteas, but the role has hampered rather than enhanced his career.
Hendricks has spent many series wearing a bib and going unused by the Proteas despite showing his quality often.
Most of his opportunities have come in T20Is, where he has played important knocks but hasn’t often gone huge, which has left his career numbers in an underwhelming state.
In recent seasons in ODI cricket, Hendricks has been the back-up opener behind Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma. De Kock has been consistently excellent and Bavuma has been the captain, which has left Hendricks holding on for rare chances.
His 2023 Cricket World Cup campaign is almost a snapshot of his career, with Hendricks playing just two of the 10 matches the Proteas contested. Prior to the World Cup, Hendricks played just three ODIs this year. In 2022, Hendricks played two ODIs – and he played three matches in the format in both 2021 and 2020.
Hendricks has rarely been allowed to build any sort of momentum as an international cricketer. In franchise cricket, he has shown that he will often be near the top of the run-scorers if he is allowed to play consistently.
His role as the back-up white-ball batter for the Proteas has also prevented Hendricks from playing more first-class cricket and making a serious push for a Test debut.
Hendricks has played essential knocks in five of his last six T20Is, including a crucial 49 in the second match of the series against India at St George’s Park recently.
T20 World Cup beckons
He has made an early statement for 2024 T20 World Cup selection with his recent knock against India – and his 2023 form overall. Hendricks might not be allowing himself to believe he will finally be given a central role in a big tournament, but then things could still go up in smoke for him as they have before.
Hendricks has often missed out on opportunities because the Proteas wanted to sample another flavour of the week – and that might happen again.
Right now, Hendricks has the inside track, and his fate seems in his own hands, with the white-ball series against India and SA20 set to dominate his summer.
Perhaps the IPL
Hendricks has missed out on any sort of Indian Premier League payday as well, not putting in flashy enough performances, but his SA20 team’s connection to the Chennai Super Kings might yet bear fruit for the 34-year-old.
A great SA20 campaign might be what Hendricks needs to sway the Proteas selectors into giving him a good run in the T20I and ODI teams.
His career isn’t over yet, but Hendricks hasn’t reaped the rewards that his talent and commitment have deserved – and a lot of that has been down to things that are out of his hands.