The Cape Cobras are a tight-knit bunch, particularly the youthful majority that make up of the squad. They share each other’s triumphs and failures and were visibly disappointed for their mate when he missed out on a Mzansi Super League contract at the player draft.
But, yet now it is Hamza that is walking around with the biggest smile after the classy right-hander received a maiden call-up to the Proteas Test squad for the series against Pakistan this month.
“I always tell myself that the world works in a mysterious ways,” Hamza exclusively told Independent Media on Thursday afternoon in Stellenbosch where he is playing for the University of Western Cape in the USSA week.
“I think for most of the franchise, even the semi-professional guys, we all wanted to be part of the MSL, especially in this birth year of the tournament. After missing out I told myself I am just going to better myself fitness wise. I have also being playing club cricket and trying to stay fit. And look now … I got this massive call up. It is huge and beyond my wildest dreams!”
Hamza is part of a 13-man squad for the three-match series that also features the return of Knights fast bowler Duanne Olivier in place of the injured Lungi Ngidi.
“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa ‘A’ tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions,” said national convener of selectors Linda Zondi.
“Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69.
“His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,” explained Zondi.
The 23-year-old is certainly one for the future, and will benefit from being in the company of Messrs Amla, Du Plessis and Elgar before they head off into the sunset. He has certainly shown that he not only has the technique, but also the temperament to be successful at the highest level from a very young age when he became the fourth youngest South African to hit a first-class double century in 2014.
“I think the honour and privilege to represent the 50 million people in the country is massive. That is something that I need to go away and think about for a while. Of course there will be nerves if I do get to play. For me it is all about to learn as much as I can. I am hoping to learn as much as I can. Stay calm and take care of the controllables and trust my instincts.
“There is a lot to learn from many of the icons in the Proteas team. Hopefully I can just tuck in under their arms and just to enjoy the moment. It’s been a surreal feeling. It has been a crazy day.”
Proteas Test squad
Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.@ZaahierAdams