Cape Town – When the Proteas squad for the 2019 World Cup was announced last April, the only potentially controversial exclusion was Reeza Hendricks.
It was a tough blow for the Lions man, who had looked in good touch at the top of the order in the ODI run he was given in the build-up to the tournament without ever solidifying his position.
Instead, the national selectors went with Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla and given how both of those players struggled at the global showpiece, hindsight suggests Hendricks probably should have been on the plane.
Now, as the Proteas look to restore some much-needed credibility to their ODI side, Hendricks is back in the picture and he will open the batting alongside captain Quinton de Kock in the first of three fixtures against England at Newlands on Tuesday.
With Amla retired and Markram out injured, this is the perfect opportunity for Hendricks to start making himself indispensable to the ODI side with the 2023 World Cup in India already in mind.
At this period of renewal for South African cricket, fans will have to get used to seeing a new opening partnership for the Proteas in ODI cricket.
De Kock and Amla opened the batting together a staggering 93 times in the format and, at Amla’s prime, it was the perfect pairing.
While De Kock could take the game away from opposition attacks with his natural ability to score quickly and all around the park, Amla was a picture of class with his own unique, destructive set of skills.
They are undoubtedly some big shoes to fill for Hendricks, but speaking at Newlands on Monday on the eve of the first ODI, De Kock said the 30-year-old was very much like Amla in many ways.
“Reeza and Hash are very similar people in general … very calm, cool and collected. It’s going pretty much be like batting with Hash,” De Kock said.
“Reeza and I have a great understanding and we’ve played a lot of cricket with each other. I’m sure we’ll do well together.”
When discussing Hendricks’ strengths, the similarities De Kock sees to Amla revealed themselves even more.
“He plays situations really well. He’s very cool-headed and pressure is not really a worry for him,” said the skipper.
“He just really looks good when he bats and we know that when he gets going, he plays really good cricket shots and it’s hard to stop him.
“Hopefully he comes off. He’s been batting really well and he’s been knocking down the door for a while now.”
Another option at the top of the order is the uncapped Janneman Malan in a move that would see Hendricks come in at No 3.
In all likelihood, though, Malan will have to remain patient.
Play on Tuesday starts at 13:00.