Johannesburg – Dominic Hendricks loves being captain of the Imperial Lions at the moment.
“It’s the easiest bit of work I’ve had to do in a long time,” he chirped on Monday, having just touched down in Johannesburg after the journey up from Gqeberha, where his side had taken three days to beat the Gbets Warriors, by an innings and 20 runs. That’s an emphatic result, but it’s made bizarre by the fact that the Lions only scored 170 in their innings.
“I’ve never experienced something like that in my life,” Hendricks said about the outcome.
It was made possible by the quartet of quicks Hendricks has at his disposal. While Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala, Malusi Siboto and Duanne Olivier, make Hendricks’ life easy, the same can’t be said for the opposition batsmen.
The North West Dragons failed to score 200 in either innings of the opening round match at the Wanderers. It was worse for the Warriors who managed just 94 and 56 at St. George’s Park. Again the foursome shared all 20 wickets, as they did in the first round, with Sipamla taking 6/34 in the first innings and Magala 6/30 in the second.
Hendricks’s role right now involves having very short conversations. “I just ask ‘how are you feeling?,’ they go: ‘I’m good,” and I say, ‘okay cool, just let me know you are done.’ It’s been great.” In all seriousness, Hendricks knows he’s been blessed with a devastating set of weapons. “What was evident, is that whenever someone new came to the wicket, the first ball was on the money, from all of our fast bowlers. The guys were in such unbelievable rhythm, it was almost unplayable some of the balls that they bowled.”
“The guys know what they are doing, and that makes things a hell of a lot easier. Everyone is on song at the moment, to the extent that everybody you throw the ball to, knows their job. In the first innings it was Lutho’s day, in the second innings it was Magala’s day. The roles were always interchanging in that each one of the four can be a strike bowler. It’s great to have at your disposal,” said Hendricks.
The acquisition of Olivier has certainly helped. He left the country somewhat controversially two seasons ago on the back of a devastating home series against Pakistan, and signed a Kolpak contract at Yorkshire. Brexit, has made Kolpak null and void, and Olivier has relished his return to the South African circuit picking up 11 wickets in his first two matches for the Lions.
“ He’s learnt a lot about bowling fuller,” Hendricks remarked. “That was quite evident. In the UK you can’t bomb people out, so you have to bowl fuller, the wickets are slower. The wicket at St George’s was quite slow, but it was also going around a bit, so you had to bowl quite full. Lutho took those six wickets in the first innings, but at the other end Duanne was going for nothing.”
“He has been great value off the field,” Hendricks stated emphatically. “I’m already saying we should try to keep this guy for next year because he’s a no-brainer of a signing. He’s been unbelievable on and off the field.”
Magala and Siboto have taken 17 wickets between them, supplementing the work that Olivier and Sipamla have done with the new ball. “None of them feel threatened by any of the others. It’s unbelievable that we’ve seen them just gel from the first game,” the Lions captain explained.
He described the batting in Gqeberha as “disappointing.” “Funny enough, It was quite a decent wicket, the scores don’t reflect that.”
“This week was disappointing; You don’t want to be bowling a team out for under a hundred, and then be bowling again shortly afterwards. We are making a conscious effort to not be put in that situation again.
“Looking back at the first week, we saw that guys aren’t out of their depth, they want to play. Guys batted for a couple of hours in that first game, they looked the part, One of my jobs is to nurture these guys, get them up to speed so that they can be more consistent throughout the season,” said Hendricks.