Claude Henderson is bright-eyed and big built. He towers above, at least a foot taller.
I’m not sure if I want to ask the question any more. He is 37. What does he make of the perception that Twenty20 is a young man’s game?
Henderson grins. Thankfully, without any menace.
“T20 is not a young man’s game,” he bellows. “It’s a fantastic format, I enjoy every moment of it. Also, I need to bowl only four overs. So as long as you can run around the park and enjoy yourself it’s good.”
Born and bred in Cape Province, Henderson, a slow left-arm spinner, is part of the Cape Cobras unit, which has already qualified for the league stage of the Champions League T20 tournament. And the weight of experience he carries makes him a key member of the squad. In T20 cricket, he has scalped 49 wickets in 52 matches at an average of 21.91.
Henderson, who plays for Leicestershire in English domestic cricket, is enjoying the bigger, better version of T20 cricket at the Champions League. “This is much bigger, there’s more TV, more money involved. The English T20 is also a nice tournament—we have 18 very good teams and lots of overseas players. But this is the ideal platform for players who have not been on the international scene.”
He did represent South Africa in seven Tests and four One-day Internationals, but the spinner had to wait long for his national cap, given the one-spinner theory the team has applied over the years.
”I had to wait a lot to get into the national squad, but I think I was picked when the time was right. I am bowling as well as I ever have in my career now. Spinners mature late and play better as they get older because of the experience and understanding of the game. Fortunately, I have remained injury-free.
”Sure, South African wickets are more suited to seam bowling and hence we have more fast bowlers coming from the region but there is some good young talent in the spin department too. They just need the proper coaching and exposure—not just bowling in the nets.”
A former prison warden, who took up the duty-- though only on paper-- to escape the two years of mandatory military service in South Africa, is now eager take custody of younger bowlers. Coaching is his other passion. And with that stature, it shouldn’t be difficult to make his wards sit up and listen