Chennai Super Kings v Sydney Sixers, Group B, CLT20, Jo'burg October 14, 2012

Henriques outshines bright lights

Moises Henriques wasn't the most high-profile Australian cricketer on show in Johannesburg but he out-performed his countrymen

Combine the frontline Australian bowlers in this match and they will form a potentially imposing and exciting attack. Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus shared the new ball for Chennai Super Kings, and the young trio of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins took the field for Sydney Sixers. Throw Shane Watson into the mix and, with Mitchell Johnson to come on next as part of Mumbai Indians, you see why Australia are spoilt for choice this summer.

Of course, the 20-over format is not the best stage to see them in action. Even on a pitch that, as MS Dhoni said, "did a bit early on, to be honest," and had good bounce, they were always going to become victims of butchery and blazing.

Hilfenhaus bowled two impressive overs at the start of the innings, during which he found swing and beat the bat with short-of-a-length deliveries. When he returned for the final over, none of the same skill was on display because he had to resort to damage control.

Bollinger had a similar experience: he was economical in his first spell and took a pasting in his last over. Chennai chose to leave out Albie Morkel, not because of his ankle injury but in order to play "our best batsmen in [Michael] Hussey and Faf [du Plessis]," according to Dhoni, and did not have anyone to contain at the end. "Where we lacked was the death bowling," Dhoni admitted. "We gave away about 15 runs too many." Incidentally, the margin of defeat was 14.

For Sydney, Hazlewood and Starc started well too. Hazlewood had Hussey playing tentatively and Starc claimed the wicket of M Vijay with a ball that swung in viciously. Cummins was quick, as expected, and although his pace harried the Chennai batsmen, he was expensive.

However, there was another bowler who may not immediately stand out as being one to notice. Moises Henriques was the day's unlikely hero, with an all-round performance that sealed the match for Sydney. Henriques was the difference between a total Dhoni thought was gettable and one that Haddin thought was "definitely enough" to defend.

And when that total started looking as though it may be reachable, Henriques ensured it was not with his bowling. He used clever changes of pace and was fortunate to have two superb catches taken off his bowling to cap off a match to remember. While his performance would have come as a surprise to "a lot of the people in this room and elsewhere," Haddin told a fairly empty press conference venue, it was something the Sydney management was expecting.

"It's been coming for a while. What I've noticed over the last six months is that Moises trains to be a better cricketer," Haddin said. "That's the sign of a lot of great cricketers - they train to better themselves. This performances isn't a shock to us."

Henriques said it was tougher with the bat for him, especially in the early parts of his innings. "For the first ten balls, I was just trying to get off strike," he said. Henriques scored eight runs off his first nine balls, giving himself time to get his eye in. "Once the ball lost that hardness and wasn't shooting through anymore, then I could have a bit more of a go."

The challenge for Henriques is to make sure a performance like this one is not a one-off, and that he can he can build on it to make a case for higher honours. He thinks he can. "I'm hoping that I've learnt enough over the last few years for this to be happening more often," he said.

Haddin believes it will, especially given Henriques recent form. He scored at least a half-century in his last four innings, including a 161 against Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield, and taken seven wickets in his last two matches. "We, at Sydney, have been witnessing thus sort of thing from him over the last month. It's good that he could do it on the world stage," Haddin said. It's this stage that will remind everyone of the depth in Australian cricket at the moment.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RVC-38 on October 16, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    @ Meety on (October 15 2012, 11:28 AM GMT) I agree, and I am hoping that the Test team performs so we do not need any NEW blood at the moment. but with Punter and huss walking towards the exit door, its great that players like Henriques and Kawaja have started this season well, as you said consistancy is whats needed from these batsmen, but there is no better way of getting consistancy than by the way Henriques has started this season. By the way i do not think he is a all rounder as such, but the bowling is a bonus.

  • Moppa on October 16, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    @Meety, indeed, we do have similar views, and it is also true that M.Marsh and Henriques are in quite similar positions in terms of the path to the Test team: lots more consistency in their batting, alongside which their bowling is a handy bonus. But with Watson fit, their bowling can't make the case for selection, and even if Watson is not available, their batting needs to be VERY close to being top 6 in Australia to tip the scales. Your point about Smith is a good one: I also noticed that he was batting well in the Shield when picked in the Ashes, but in hindsight it seems his batting wasn't up to Test standard. When his batting went to pieces, his bowling was hardly enough to make up for it. Re Christian vs Watson, the key difference is that Watson was always a top-notch batsman, even though the selectors mistakenly tried to turn him into Flintoff. Watson's FC batting average has been 45-50 for about a decade, whereas Christian's will be lucky to reach 35, ever!

  • Meety on October 16, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    @Moppa on (October 15 2012, 21:03 PM GMT) - it does mirror that conversation, as I think we have similar views, I agree re: needing to be in the top 6 batsmen, but there'll come a time when the selectors would say to Huss & Punter - your times up. When that time comes we need batsmen who have a good resume. I never had a problem with Smith getting selected originally, as he was performing well in Shield, his batting was approaching 60. He'll have to reinvent himself, I don't think batting @ #7 in ODIs & not bowling did him any favours. I suppose why I harp on a FC batting ave of 40, is to avoid the "bits n pieces" players that you talk about. I can't see Christian as a Test player at the moment, that been said his bowling reminds me of Watto about 6 years ago, generally darts at a useful pace. If he can develop like Watto's bowling did - maybe, but atm I can't see him in either the top 6 batsmen or 4 specialist bowling slots.

  • Moppa on October 15, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    @Meety, sounds like a conversation we had about Mitch Marsh needing to average 40! I agree with @anton1234, hopefully this removes any thoughts the selectors had for picking Dan Christian in a Test match. However, in general I think Henriques still fits the 'bits and pieces' all-rounder mould that isn't well suited to Test cricket... unless his batting dramatically improves. The rule I apply is whether the player is in either Australia's best 6 batsmen or best 4 bowlers. If they're not, then you're talking about changing the balance of the team quite radically to play them - remember Steve Smith? Henriques would be lucky to be in the top 20 bowlers in Australia, but maybe is not so far away with his batting. The only scenario I could see Henriques playing Tests this season would be if Watson was injured and Ponting, Clarke and Hussey shuffled up to fit him in at 6. @xylo, pretty sure the author is South African - perhaps she hasn't seen Australia play since 2009...?

  • Meety on October 15, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    @rickyvoncanterbury on (October 15 2012, 08:26 AM GMT) - I wouldn't look at him for the Test team until he gets his FC batting average up over 40. Which as a quick guess means IF he bats rreally well from now on, say this time next year.

  • dummy4fb on October 15, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    At this moment Henriques is a better All-rounder than M. Marsh/Dan Christian/ D. Hussey...i.e. all bar Watto...i think this season is going to define his future...all the best Moises

  • RVC-38 on October 15, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    in a year when Aussie cricket is looking for batsmen to put their hand up, has anyone put theirs higher than Moises, He started with a pura cup game of 78 and 0/20 against WA, followed with a shield game against WA , for 78 with the bat and 2/20 and 2/26 with the ball, then another shield contribution of 161 NO and 50 NO and 3/41 in the second innings aganist Tas, Now this performance in South Africa of 49 and 3/23. great stuff keep up the good work.

  • Meety on October 15, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    @PFEL on (October 15 2012, 00:35 AM GMT) - its more about the fact that he made his List A debut about 8 yrs ago & has not tracked well over that time. I think all Ozzy fans would be hoping he continues at the level he is going at currently!

  • Meety on October 15, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    @chicko1983 on (October 15 2012, 01:27 AM GMT) - Henriques has been around for ages, but he is still only 25! I think last year he started the season well, but with Test players returning (either dropped or between Tests/ODI commitments) he lost consistancy, then I think he bowled pretty well in a short County stint this season. So I think he has been building & really the way NSW is with players he was at the point in his career where either he made an impact now or move to Adelaide! I think the comparison between Marsh & Henriques is interesting - I think both players have better stats in their "weaker" discipline (bowling), at FC level.

  • chicko1983 on October 15, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    Well moises has had 6 years of first class cricket now, hopefully he can step up and play to his potential. There were huge wraps on him as a teenager then he never really got consistent. I had assumed that he stopped improving but this season it looks like he has improved ten fold. Hopefully Mitch Marsh can do the same...

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