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BRIAN Lara, Matthew Hayden, Sir Garry Sobers, Sir Don Bradman and Sir Len Hutton. These are all greats of the great game called Test cricket. After two days of majestic batting against England at The Oval, Hashim Mahomed Amla can now sit comfortably among these legends.
Amla stroked a glorious 311 not out, which places him officially 15th on the list of all-time highest Test scores, and he would surely have moved further up the list had Proteas captain Graeme Smith not rightly declared South Africa’s innings closed on 637/2.
The elegant strokeplayer, with the trademark wristy shots, has moved to the very top of SA’s own list.
He has overtaken the celebrated Graeme Pollock (274), his coach, Gary Kirsten, and Darryl Cullinan (275), his Test captain, Smith (277), and his limited-overs skipper AB de Villiers (278), and in the process has become the first South African to achieve the distinction of a triple century.
It is a phenomenal achievement by Amla, whose ability and technique were routinely questioned by cricket pundits when he originally donned a Proteas shirt back in 2004.
But Amla had learnt his trade in the cricket-rich environment of Durban High School, the alma mater of that other great South African batsman, Barry Richards, and had led South Africa’s under-19 and his provincial team, the Dolphins, before his elevation to the highest level.
Few things faze Amla, and a cricket ball is certainly not among them.
He is a devout Muslim who has steadfastly refused to wear the logo of the Proteas team sponsor, which promotes alcohol, and has risen above comments from former Australian Test player turned commentator Dean Jones who once labelled him a “terrorist” because of his trademark long beard.
Amla, a humble, modest man, is already ranked No 1 in the world in one-day cricket.
And, as this historic innings showed, he could turn out to be SA’s finest player yet.