Stuart Hess at the Oval
On a day of unprecedented success in South Africa sport, the South African cricketers and Ernie Els recognised each other’s achievements and were full of praise for the roles they each played in inspiring the other.
The South African team, were on the brink of a first ever Test win at the Oval on Monday, thanks in no small part to Hashim Amla’s historic 311, the first Test triple century by a South African.
A few hours after Amla had raised his bat to acknowledge the applause of a generous Oval crowd, Els claimed a second claret jug at Royal Lytham after firing a final round 68.
“Some of the guys know him personally so they were extremely happy,” Amla said Sunday night.
He and the rest of the team had received the news as they returned to the dressing room, after a remarkable fourth
day’s play, with Amla’s triple hundred, Jacques Kalli’s 182 and then four England wickets putting them in a powerful position to annexvictory in the opening Test of the three match series.
“As South Africans we are chuffed, someone who’s been an ambassador for the country has again made the country proud. Coming from another sportsman you appreciate how much time and energy and sacrifice goes
in...and when some does well, you’re really happy for the person,” Amla said.
Els had kept a close on the cricket. "Yeah, I was watching a bit," Els told reporters at Lytham. "I watched a bit (Saturday) night and then obviously this morning a little bit. It seems like the guys are fresh and ready to play and hopefully they'll have a good series."
South Africa can knock England off the top of the world Test rankings if they win the three-match series.
"There's still a long way to go, two more Test matches, so there's a good start," said Els
As for his own remarkable achievement, Amla was at a loss as to explain how he did it. “Analysing myself? What? I have to go deep now. You’ll have to speak to the psychologist with the team. You try and bat, you want to contribute to the team. I can’t get into the
psycho-babble about it, I just try and enjoy it and try and maximise the opportunity.”