Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

OPINION: Walter is making a safe decision by sticking with Hendricks

There are valid reasons that Reeza Hendricks hasn't shone yet at the T20 World Cup.

Though fans might not be too keen to see Reeza Hendricks walking out to the middle in the Proteas’ T20 World Cup semifinal against Afghanistan on Thursday, they might just have to hope for the best, as head coach Rob Walter is likely to stick with the opener for the crunch clash.

And while it might not seem like a good decision on paper, it is a safer choice than picking international rookie Ryan Rickelton.

Of all the Proteas’ batters who have been given a chance to play at the tournament, Hendricks has been the most disappointing.

In seven matches, he has scored just 80 runs at an average of 11.42, and while he made a valuable 43-run contribution in their first-round game against Nepal, in four of his innings he was dismissed for less than five runs.

This has raised questions about whether Hendricks, an experienced player, should be dropped for Rickelton, who hasn’t been given an opportunity at the global showpiece.

Defending Hendricks

Walter, however, dismissed suggestions this week that Hendricks needed to be replaced, insisting he had been a victim of poor batting conditions in some games and a bit of bad luck in their last match against West Indies.

It’s no surprise that fans are calling for Hendricks to get the chop in the playoffs, considering his performances thus far at the tournament, but Walter is right. The conditions in their first three matches in New York were very poor for batting, and in better conditions he has looked a lot more like his usual self.

Rob Walter
Proteas head coach Rob Walter speaks to the media during a press conference. Picture: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

In previous instances, Walter has perhaps been guilty of having too much confidence in experienced players, particularly at last year’s 50-over World Cup where he refused to drop under-performing captain Temba Bavuma, who then fell for a duck in their semifinal defeat to Australia.

But there are valid reasons that Hendricks hasn’t shone thus far at the T20 tournament, and while there is no guarantee that he will stand up and deliver tomorrow, Rickelton has just three T20 Internationals under his belt.

Picking a far less experienced player is more risky, and the World Cup is no place to gamble.

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