CAPE TOWN – Often it is said that it’s not how you start that is important, but how you finish. Or that you are only as good as your last innings.
These may be worn-out cliches, but Hashim Amla’s final visit to the crease in 2018 was arguably one of his most pleasurable. South Africa’s most experienced batsmen put together 63 undefeated runs that ensured a tricky fourth innings run-chase against a very good Pakistan attack was completed without too much trouble.
Yes, the 35-year-old enjoyed a bit of good fortune, but then even at his peak of his powers back in 2012 Amla had the rub of the green.
Amla actually had a positive start to 2018 with three half-centuries in a high-octane series against Virat Kohli’s India team. However, he then endured a lean patch that would see him add one only further fifty before the first Test of the new home summer last week.
The drop in performance filtered through to white-ball cricket too, where his struggles continued in the ODI format and also in the T20 Leagues, resulting in the Durban Heat actually dropping Amla for a couple of matches in the Mzansi Super League.
Such drastic action has never entered the mind of Proteas captain Faf du Plessis though. Du Plessis is just pleased Amla is finding his touch at the beginning of an all-important season for the Proteas, which is highlighted by the World Cup in July.
“In my mind, Hash is like (Alastair) Cook from England. People will always talk about him not scoring runs, but he is still the best that we have got in the team. Certainly not close (to being dropped) in my mind. Maybe if it was another season where Hash struggled, then maybe next season I would have said something different,” du Plessis said.
“It was very important for Hash. Not only in red-ball cricket, but it was important for him to score some runs and just relax a bit. Runs are runs, and doesn’t matter that its red ball. Hopefully it will be a big stepping stone for him because it’s a big season for us ahead this year.”
Amla will also take further confidence into the New Year Test for the fact that it was here at Newlands that after a string of low scores the previous year, he found his groove in the first week of 2016 to strike a double-century against England at his home ground.@ZaahierAdams