All the cricket fans around the world became astonished to see a beard guy playing for South Africa, when they saw Hashim Amla making his Test debut against India in 2004. Now, after completing the circle of 100 tests, people are still astonished but this time for the ability of playing well continuously throughout this 13 years.
Amla was dropped soon for his poor performances and then in 2006, he returned to the national team following the forced absence of Herschelle Gibbs against New Zealand in Cape Town. Since then, he has been one of the pillar of the South African middle-order along side the likes of Sir Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis.
Let’s have a look into his Career through Numbers:
8 — Amla will become the 8th player to represent South Africa in 100 Test matches. Kallis (165 Tests), Mark Boucher (146), Graeme Smith (116), Shaun Pollock (108), AB de Villiers (106), Gary Kirsten (101) and Makhaya Ntini (101) are the others in the list. Amla will be the second-oldest (33 y 287 d) South African to reach the landmark after Kirsten (36y 116d). It takes 12 years and 46 days to reach the landmark which is the maximum time since debut among other South African players.
3 — There are 3 more players who scored more than Amla in Africa.
25– His 25 centuries is the joint-most by anyone for the Proteas alongside Kallis.
3 — 490 runs in three innings during South Africa’s tour of India in 2010 was scored by Amla. He is only the fourth player to do so in a two-Test series and only the second player to do it in a series away from home.
65.62 – Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul averages (67.71) more than Amla between January 2010 and December 2014. Amla’s average (65.62) in Test matches Among the 66 batsmen who scored over 1 000 runs during this period, Amla scored 4 069 runs in this period, which was only behind Alastair Cook (4769), Michael Clarke (4506) and Kumar Sangakkara (4446).
11 — Amla played out 11 innings without adding another 50 after starting off 2015 with a 63 against West Indies. It is the longest sequence for him in his whole career. He is currently going through a lean patch without scoring a 50 in 10 innings since his last 50 in August 2016.
201 — Against England in Cape Town in 2016, 201 is the highest score by any player in his final Test while leading the side that was scored by Amla. Till now, seven players have scored a hundred in their final Test as captain but Amla is the only one to go past 200.
4 — Graeme Smiths scored 5 double century in test for country. Amla is in second position with 4 double centuries. He is also South Africa’s only triple centurion. He scored an unbeaten 311 against England at the Oval in 2012.
71.50 — Amla’s average against his favorite opposition New Zealand. He scored 1001 runs with four hundreds and six 50s after played 11 Tests. Unfortunately, he will be playing his 100th Test against the team who he struggled the most in nine Tests. And its Sri Lanka(average of 33.46).
1 202 — Runs scored by Amla in Centurion at an average of 80.13(in 11 Tests). No one averages more than Amlas 80.13 at the Super Sport Park among those who scored at least 1 000 runs at a South African venue.
59.48 — Amla’s average in the third innings of a Test match. His average is the seventh-best, For South Africa only Jacques Kallis (65.26) averages more than Amla in the third innings of a Test.( Among those players with a minimum of 1 500 runs in the third innings.)
58.16– Amla’s average of 53.31 at that position is higher than his average at other positions, which is creditable given that he plays a lot of his cricket at home, where conditions are especially favorable for seam and swing early in the innings. Amla’s home average at that position is 49.52, while away from home it goes up to 58.16 – that is a pretty clear indicator of the tougher conditions in South Africa for a top-three batsman.
7665– runs scored by Amla in Tests, 86% have come at No. 3, which makes him the fourth-highest run-scorer at that position; only Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid and Ponting have scored more in that position.
7 — Most number of dismissals for him against a bowler. Seven times each to Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Broad. However, he averaged 42 against Johnson and 43 against Broad.
So who is Hashim Amla, really? Without cricket this phenomenon has many inspiring things that to be leant by anyone! We now find out according to current and former team-mates Dale Steyn, Stephen Cook, Herschelle Gibbs , Robin Peterson, a former captain, Graeme Smith, and a former coach, Gary Kirsten.
Amla comes in lime light when he refused to wear the Castle logo on his kit, but even as a teenager he was rooted in religion. On an Under-19 tour, Amla asked room-mate Peterson whether he would mind if Amla stayed up at night and woke up early to pray. “I told him I had absolutely no problem with that,” Peterson, who had extended family who were Muslim and was well acquainted with the faith, said.
Amla’s commitment to his faith inspired many of his team-mates, not just for his dedication but for how he managed to make it all encompassing. “As much as he is diligent and disciplined in his own faith, he is also extremely tolerant of other people’s beliefs,” Kirsten said. “That’s what makes him the perfect team man.”
A batsman with a strange backlift
Graeme Smith said “I am a big fan of different styles of cricketers, different grips, and different ways of ways of doing things,” he said. “That means that captains have to set fields differently and think of other ways to get people out. It makes it interesting.”
It was thought that Amla’s unusual backlift – it began from the direction of gully instead of straight behind him – might hold him back while the whole world cricket players practice it million times in net. Once Gibbs said “I wasn’t sure about him when I first saw him bat,” he said.
This man is too hungry to learn.”He is a real student of the game and he has an enquiring mind,” Kirsten said. “He has always wanted to find ways to grow in the game and to engage in discussions about different ways of playing.””
A diligent trainer
Part of Amla’s routine is to take a bag of golf balls to practice and hit them with a stump to fine-tune his eye. During the tour of New Zealand in 2012, Amla asked Kirsten to do the golf-ball throwdowns.
“After I had sent down about ten, he came to me and said, ‘You’ve got to throw harder than that. You’ve got to make it more difficult for me,'” Kirsten said. “I just realised that not only did he want me to send the ball down quickly, he also wanted it on a good length. He really wanted to be challenged.”
Kirsten has only seen one other player train as hard & He is Sachin Tendulkar.
Amla’s approach to practice has not changed, and as recently as the Australia tour he was training as hard as ever. South Africa were preparing for their first day-night Test with a pink ball and Dale Steyn was bowling to Amla. “After that session, I walked into the change room and I said, ‘Either I’m shit, or that net is really flat, because Hashim just smacked me everywhere.'”
He belongs to South Africa’s two most successful pairings: 3923 runs with Jacques Kallis at 61.29 per partnership, and 3658 runs with Smith at 57.15. Smith particularly enjoyed batting with Amla because “he scored runs at a great tempo and transferred pressure a lot”.
A batsman without obvious weaknesses
Amla is one of those two batsmen Steyn does not enjoy bowling to in the nets. AB de Villiers is the other, but for different reasons. “AB makes it look really easy, but he doesn’t play as many shots. Hashim is aggressive in the nets. He wants to feel bat on ball. I never walk away from a net feeling confident after I’ve bowled to Hashim.”
Steyn thought he had it figured, but says he might have been wrong. “I got him twice off slower balls early in his career so I thought this was the way to do it,” he said. “Then I tried it in the CPL and he got hold of me. With Dwayne Bravo, he hit my last over for 22.
Amla was a surprise choice to replace Smith as Test captain, because he had shown his leadership ability earlier in his career. Apart from stepping aside as Dolphins captain in the mid 2000s, Amla also walked away from South Africa’s limited-overs vice-captaincy in 2013 but then made himself available to lead the Test team. Steyn was one of his greatest supporters.
“I enjoyed his captaincy. He was quite aggressive,” Steyn said. “In his first series in charge, in Sri Lanka, he called us into a huddle and told us these words – I can’t remember exactly what they were but it was pretty similar to the team song we have now – and he said we had to say this and from that moment, when we went on to the field, we would dominate. It didn’t matter what had happened before or after that. I thought it was quite nice. I thought he would be a quiet captain but he was quite vocal and after that series, I thought he had the job nailed down.”
There are more to Amla than cricket. “He surprises you with the things he is interested in,” Smith said. “He really likes to surf, for example.” Steyn doesn’t mind that Amla is a cleanliness freak, either. “He is a true professional. His kit is pristine. I enjoy sitting next to him because I hate having a messy change-room.”
A cricketer with a future
For Kirsten, it’s about goals. “At some point when performance becomes indifferent, you have to ask yourself what more he wants to achieve. Does he want to play another 50 Tests, another 20? These great players can always come back to great form.”
For Smith, there is no question at least not now. “At the moment, South Africa cannot afford to be without Amla. He is just too good a player and once he gets some luck, he is going to hurt somebody.”