T20 centurions cleared for take-off

Reeza Raphael Hendricks of the Lions during 2017 T20 Ram Slam match between Multiply Titans and Bizhub Highveld Lions at Supersport Park, Pretoria South Africa on 12 November 2017.
Reeza Raphael Hendricks of the Lions during 2017 T20 Ram Slam match between Multiply Titans and Bizhub Highveld Lions at Supersport Park, Pretoria South Africa on 12 November 2017.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

An 18-year-old Reeza Hendricks couldn’t quite believe what his television was showing him on April 18‚ 2008.

Not that he had a choice.

That really was Brendon McCullum on screen‚ and he really was raising his bat to acknowledge the roar of approval for scoring a century.

And he really was wearing purple kit‚ gold pads and a gold helmet.

“I was in shock‚” Hendricks said on Tuesday.

“I asked myself‚ ‘How did he manage to do that?’.”

Not submit to purple and gold gear‚ but score the century‚ which grew to an undefeated 158.

Hendricks’ question was prompted by the fact that McCullum had scored his ton for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL).

A century! In a T20!

Actually‚ Chris Gayle beat the New Zealander to it at international level with his 117 for West Indies against South Africa at the Wanderers on September 11‚ 2007.

But‚ as with most things T20‚ what happens in the IPL remains uppermost in many memories.

On Sunday‚ more than nine years on‚ Hendricks provided his own answer to his question by scoring 102 not out for the Lions against the Dolphins in Potchefstroom.

So‚ how did he manage to do that?

“There’s not much of a difference [batting in a T20 compared to other formats]‚ except that you’re looking to hit boundaries more often.

“You’re intent on picking gaps in the field rather than trying to hit sixes‚ and your intensity has to be high.”

McCullum’s century was the first of 47 scored in the IPL to date and there have been 28 tons in T20 internationals. Gayle blasted his trailblazer in the 20th international‚ and in all there have been 631 games in the format at the highest level.

So‚ even in a phenomenon as obsessed with excess and reinvention as T20‚ centuries are hard to find. Thus far‚ only 4.4374% of internationals in the format have featured a hundred.

But Hendricks warned there were many more to come: “The game’s evolving and that’s the way it’s going to keep going.”

Indeed‚ Hendricks’ ton wasn’t even the first of this season’s T20s in South Africa.

That distinction belongs to Sarel Erwee‚ who made 103 not out for the Dolphins against the Cobras in Centurion a week earlier.

Erwee also retained bright memories McCullum’s 2008 effort.

“That was unbelievable hitting‚ and it opened a lot of people’s eyes as to where the game was going‚” Erwee said on Tuesday.

He was in the Lions’ side that was on the receiving end of Hendricks’ heroics on Sunday‚ and he knew early where that game was going: “The way he hit the ball from ball one‚ I thought‚ ‘If he gets in here he can get a hundred’ …”

Another milestone was passed on Tuesday when Beth Mooney‚ an Australian‚ and England’s Dani Wyatt became the first two players to score centuries in the same women’s T20.

That’s right — not the first women’s T20 centuries.

In fact‚ six tons have been scored in women’s the 393 T20 internationals women have played. Two of them belong to West Indian Deandra Dottin.

One of these mad seasons‚ a century may not be anything special — not if Mohit Ahlawat’s 72-ball 300 for the Maavi XI‚ a semi-professional team‚ against the Friends XI in Delhi in February is a reliable indicator of the future.

Ahlawat’s feat earned him a trial with the Delhi Daredevils‚ but nothing more. At 21‚ he can afford to wait.

But will T20 wait for him?

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