He very nearly missed out on playing in a third World Cup, but now that he is getting set for the showpiece event, Hashim Amla says he is “hungrier than ever before”.
The Proteas right-hander has battled inconsistent form with having to deal with his father’s illness, which has seen him miss a number of games.
Amla also turned down a chance to play some English county cricket over the last few months in order to stay in South Africa because of his father’s health.
The 36-year-old found it hard to discover his touch in the CSA T20 Challenge, and eventually withdrew from the Cape Cobras squad in the last few matches.
Amla opted to work on his game off the field, and also spent some time with Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein.
Now he feels he is getting back into the groove, ahead of Friday’s warm-up game against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.
“Things happen that you don’t anticipate, and I did not anticipate how things have gone recently,” Amla told the ICC website.
“But I am a firm believer that when something happens, there is some good in it. I have had time away, and now I am really looking back to wearing the green and gold again.
“I am hungrier than ever before, there is no doubt about that. I have been blessed to have this shirt for a while, but the time off has made me want to come back stronger.
“This is my third (World Cup), so I know what it is all about. I have a strong record in England, and I have always enjoyed coming here.”
The South Africans play a second warm-up game on Sunday, against the West Indies in Bristol.
But the big one is the opener against England on Thursday, 30 May at The Oval in London, and Amla says the Proteas are excited about the challenge.
“It is the best first game we could have asked for. We have played England recently and had some success against them, I have done well against them too,” he said.
“This year, you don’t see the same big names and that is why the focus is not on us, but that has some good in it.
“There has not been much chat about us winning in comparison to the past, but I don’t think that played a part in how we performed.
“At the end of the day, we always gave our best and played to win. The fact there has not been a lot of chat at this World Cup means there is less expectation, but in the team, we think we can do well.”@ashfakmohamed