The fact that Hashim Amla still has some doubt about whether he will open the batting for the Proteas in Thursday’s World Cup opener against England says everything about the man.
The 36-year-old comes off two consecutive half-centuries in warm-up games against Sri Lanka and the West Indies – the second of which he was still unbeaten when rain ended proceedings.
The innings of 65 and 51 should be more than enough evidence for the ‘doubters’ that Amla should walk out alongside Quinton de Kock at The Oval on Thursday – not that there should’ve been any question about it anyway.
The Proteas veteran has 27 ODI hundreds to his name, and an average of 49.74 in 174 matches.
He also has an exemplary record in England over the years, and Aiden Markram needs to wait his turn – or perhaps slot in at No 3, if the South Africans opt for an extra batsman, especially in the early stages of the tournament.
Amla is now over the struggles that blighted his T20 campaign with the Cape Cobras last month.
“T20 is different to 50-over cricket. I had two weeks with (Proteas batting coach) Dale Benkenstein and spent time in the nets batting the way a 50-over cricketer would bat,” Amla said at the post-match press conference after the abandoned Windies game.
“It was important to have that time. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t.
“Scoring runs is always important. Whether I make the playing XI or not is not up to me. I do what I can do, and what happens after that is for the benefit of the team.
“It’s something you don’t try and force (giving advice to his teammates). It happens naturally. It’s not something I consciously think about, but I think it happens anyway.
“There’s a lot of experience in the playing XI and the coaching staff, so that osmosis of information and knowledge is going to happen anyway.”
And there is another ‘secret weapon’ that will assist Amla in finding his touch. He began fasting at the start of Ramadaan on 7 May, and he feels it plays a big role in streamlining his approach.
The last time he was playing in England during the holy Islamic month was in 2012, when he set the South African Test record of 311 not out…
“It really helps with my conditioning,” Amla said.
“Fasting is something I always look forward to. It’s the best month of the year for me. Physically yes, you do feel thirsty and hungry. I see it as a great mental exercise. But most importantly, it is a great spiritual exercise as well.”@ashfakmohamed