How Good is Hashim Amla?

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Amla the magnificent – much more than a beard

Underrated and understated in the media. People should start to realise just how good Hashim Amla is…

What a fantastic test match and what a shame there were only two tests in the ‘series’. It is a travesty. But even with two tons each from Sehwag and Tendulkar, fantastic knocks from Laxman and Kallis and great bowling from Steyn and Harbhajan, the undoubted star of the series was Hashim Amla.

Here are the stats: Amla batted for 23 hours and 22 minutes in the series, scored 494 runs and was only out once. That is truly remarkable. It means that he has now scored 678 runs already in 2010 at an average of 168.5. Eat your heart out Don Bradman.

And this is no flash in the pan. After initially struggling in his first 15 tests (1 century), Amla has played 28 tests since the start of November 2007 and scored over 2500 runs at an average a tick over 62 with nine centuries.

Like the best batsmen, Amla can bat in different gears depending on the match situation. In his partnership with Kallis in the 1st test, he played very much the support role initially, turning the strike over to his much more fluent partner. Then when Kallis reverted to type, Amla took the initiative and upped his strike rate significantly. And then in this test, we saw a fluent 114 in the 1st innings followed by his near 400 ball unbeaten valiant knock in the 2nd.

When he first came into test cricket against England in 2004/05 after making his debut against India, Michael Vaughan’s side identified a weakness against short-pitched bowling and Amla stuttered. England mistakenly believe that Amla has not rectified this weakness and persisted with the same strategy in England in the summer of 2008 and again recently in South Africa. Amla’s 586 runs in those two series at over 45 with two centuries seems to suggest who won that battle.

Although Amla is yet to cement a permanent place in the ODI side (he was only called up to the squad for the matches with India today – funny that!), he has done well when he has played as an average of 47 and strike rate of 83 in 22 ODIs testifies.

At 26, Amla’s best years are probably still to come and recent evidence suggests that it is he and not JP Duminy (only one year younger at 25) who is the next South African batting star to join the ranks of Nourse, Pollock, Richards, Kallis and Smith in the Proteas pantheon.

Some have dismissed him as ‘The Beard’, but no more. Arise Sir Amla of Hashim.

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