John Goliath, Zaahier Adams and Stuart Hess
“RESPECT” was the common theme as several of South African cricket’s biggest names lauded the appointment of Hashim Amla as the new captain of the Proteas Test team.
Cricket South Africa’s Board of Directors yesterday gave their approval to Amla’s appointment as Test captain, ushering in a new era for the national team following a decade of leadership under Graeme Smith.
Amla’s first Test as skipper will be next month against Sri Lanka away from home.
“Just landed in Jhb to news of @amlahash congrats my bud and excited to watch you shape proteas test future,” @GraemeSmith49 tweeted yesterday, one of many congratulatory messages on social networks.
Amla was praised as the “right choice”, with many of the game’s luminaries saying that the wristy right-hander is one of the most respected players in the game – both on and off the field.
“Hashim is one of the world’s great cricketers and one of the nicest guys in the game,” former SA Cricket chief Ali Bacher told the Cape Times last night.
“There is no reason why he can’t become an outstanding captain. He is a world-class bastman, he has no skeletons in the closet and has the respect of his team-mates and opponents.”
Bacher also said he believes the captaincy will not affect the performance of the prolific Amla in the heat of battle in Test arena.
The 31-year-old Amla has scored 6 214 runs, including 21 centuries, at an average of 51.32 in 76 Test for the Proteas since making his debut against India in Kolkata in 2004.
After the retirement of great all-rounder Jacques Kallis, Bacher feels that the CSA board made the right decision in terms of the balance of the team.
“You don’t score the amount of runs on the international stage that he has if you aren’t mentally tough,” Bacher said.
“When Jacques was in the side we were virtually playing with 12 players. With Hashim at the helm, it will now allow AB (de Villiers) to continue to play as a wicket-keeper batsman, because it would have been difficult for AB to stand behind the stumps and make crucial decisions on the field.”
Former Proteas spinner and current coach of the Cape Cobras Paul Adams agreed with Bacher about Amla’s mental toughness.
But he stressed that the “Peaceful Warrior” must be given enough support in the early stages of his tenure to find his feet as both a batsman and a captain.
“You have to grow into the role, because Hashim will have a lot more responsibilities that he has got to take on board,” said Adams, who made his Test debut against England as a 18 year old.
“You don’t find a lot of guys who can adapt to the role and do well as both a leader and a batsman. Hashim has got the quality to succeed, but he will need a strong support group.”
Omar Henry, the first black
player to represent the Proteas, was also happy with Amla’s appointment, and said it’s “proof that the system is working”. “Hashim was captain of the SA Under-19 team and came through the ranks of South African cricket,” said Henry, who appointed a 22-year-old Smith as Proteas captain more than a decade ago.
“However, the team will have to adapt to Hashim’s style after 12 years of Graeme’s leadership. He will certainly have to take the good with him, but leave the bad behind.”
Amla said yesterday he felt “humbled and privileged,” to be captain, and that he’d call on the support of a senior core of players as South Africa seek to regain it’s status as Test cricket’s No 1 team. “After Graeme left, which surprised many of us because he’s still so young, I thought more about my own contributions to the team,” Amla said.
“With the group of senior guys in our team; AB (de Villiers), JP (Duminy), Faf (du Plessis), Dale (Steyn) and Morné (Morkel) we’ve played cricket together for many years (I felt) that if the team wanted I would be available to captain the team. That’s when I first considered it. At the time I let Andrew Hudson (selection convener) know, my thinking.”