Reeza Hendricks has strung together scores of 55, 104*, 108* and 79 in his last four innings, winning three Player-of-the-Match awards on the trot and helping Jozi Stars recover from a difficult start to rise to second on the points table. He has been the talisman that has turned Stars' Mzansi Super League campaign around, but he does not believe that T20 form will have a big impact on his chances of making South Africa's World Cup squad.
"I don't think so, to be honest," Hendricks said when asked about turning T20 form into a ticket to England. "This is obviously a different format. I'd love to think it has some impact towards it, but it's a different format. Taking it as it comes. Leading up to the World Cup, it's still a while away. Hopefully I can continue scoring, and closer to the time the rest will take care of itself."
Hendricks should be part of South Africa's ODI squads to face Pakistan and Sri Lanka this summer, and that is when real stakes can be claimed in the national squad. Before South Africa left for Australia, captain Faf du Plessis suggested it was a straight shootout between Hendricks and Aiden Markram for the no. 3 position, but if he keeps scoring runs Hendricks may also put pressure on the opening slots.
Hashim Amla endured lean patches in the Caribbean Premier League and the opening rounds of the MSL, as well as being hobbled by an injury that kept him out of South Africa's touring party to Australia. After scores of 15, 24, 12. 0 and 4, Amla was dropped from the XI for Durban Heat's last match against Paarl Rocks. Hendricks, meanwhile, is in a "purple patch". Has he ever hit the ball better?
"That's a tough question, but to answer that, I don't think so," said Hendricks. "It's a purple patch that I'm going through at the moment. I'm quite grateful for how it's going at the moment." Hendricks' form certainly impressed Cape Town Blitz captain Farhaan Behardien, who suggested that Hendricks is "in the form of life", and is very tough to stop at the moment.
"He batted really well," Behardien said after Hendricks' well-paced 79 helped set up Stars' match-winning 196 for 4 at Newlands on Tuesday night. "His strike rate wasn't as high in the beginning, but he catches up. And he's in form. He's in the form of his life. It's like trying to stop a guy like AB in form, to stop a guy like David Miller when he's going really well. It's his time at the moment. We couldn't combat him tonight. Fortunately he toed one to Quinny [de Kock] at long-on. It's tough to stop him, so hopefully if we do come up against him again in a knockout or the final, we'll try have some better plans."
Hendricks credited his time in the Proteas camp with raising his game leading in to the MSL. He has been part of South Africa's last three ODI series, and while he has not quite replicated the success of his debut hundred yet, he has gained plenty of confidence from being in the national set-up.
"The intensity in the training and everything around that, the knowledge in the squad, it's a good environment to be in," he said. "Coming back here, that obviously gave me a great deal of confidence. What I've learnt, I can try and execute here, and fortunately it's been working and it's been coming off."
While he may have to score similar runs in 50-overs cricket to cement his place in South Africa's World Cup plans, Hendricks has already done enough to greatly enhance his reputation as a T20 cricketer. With the IPL auction two weeks away, he has made sure to throw his name into that hat. "I did actually put my name in the IPL auction, yes," Hendricks said. "Who knows, we'll see what happens."
Hendricks said he had been "overwhelmed" by the messages of support he has received from family, friends and fans since his back-to-back hundreds, but insisted that he won't be basking in the glow for too long and is already focussed on Jozi Stars' next game against Durban Heat at Kingsmead on Friday.
"Over the last few days it has been overwhelming," he said. "But after tonight, the game is done so I have to focus on the next day and the next game coming up. As I move on, I put this behind me and try to contribute again in the next game."
Hendricks also got the backing of his stars team-mate Chris Gayle, who suggested that his form made him the most dangerous batsman in the side. Gayle had even hoped for a third hundred from Hendricks.
"When I saw that, I had a good laugh about it," Hendricks said. "I didn't think it would be on the cards. I just went about it, didn't think too much about the three figures. Took it as it came, and just went about it over by over, ball by ball, and I was quite fortunate today that I managed to get some runs again."