Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day

Amla makes Australia pay for errors

Hashim Amla's innings wasn't flawless, but what sets him apart is that he is not affected when his weaknesses are exposed. When handed a life, the opposition usually regrets it

Firdose Moonda at the Gabba

November 9, 2012

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A

Australia will sleep uneasy knowing that tomorrow's return to the Gabba is set up as another day of toil. They will return to bowl to Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, South Africa's most successful pairing who, on day one, overtook a record that had previously stood between Kallis and Gary Kirsten, now the coach.

Together, Amla and Kallis have scored 3607 runs, average 66.79 and have combined for 11 century and eight half-century stands. Their power as a duo was at its best against England at The Oval, where they put on an unbeaten 377.

Although they do not even have half that many runs at the moment, they are complementing each other with the same push and pull as they did then. Kallis has scored at an uncharacteristically quick rate to put Australia off their lines while Amla has continued exactly from where he left off against them a year ago.

Last year this time, Amla posted back to back centuries against Australia and is well poised to notch up a third. Even if he doesn't, it will not detract from the achievements of the last 12 months. His run since this day in 2011 has been a remarkable and highly profitable one which has set up much of South Africa's success.

Not counting today's 90, Amla has accumulated 1049 runs since November 9, 2011. In 18 innings, he has four centuries, including his record-breaking 311 at The Oval. Two of those were against Australia and the other two came during South Africa's successful campaign to take the No.1 world ranking off England two months ago.

That's not all, of course. Amla has also scored three half-centuries since in that time, against Sri Lanka and New Zealand which speaks about his consistency against all opposition. His lowest average in the last four series is 34.75 against Sri Lanka at home but he has averaged over 45.00 in all the rest.

Only Michael Clarke has scored more runs in the last 12 months than Amla. In the process he has also become the second fastest South African to 5,000 Test runs. After a year of form, which looks as though it will become a lifetime of runs, what else is left to say about Hashim Amla?

At least this time his stint in the middle wasn't all pretty. When Amla rolls out the cover drive, decorated as a Turkish rug and every bit as smooth, it's easy to forget any other shot he plays. But today those unforgettables were interspersed with plays and misses, false strokes and the odd glimpse of vulnerability.

Hashim Amla hits Nathan Lyon for six, Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day, November 9, 2012
The reality is that in three of his last four hundreds, Hashim Amla has been dropped © Getty Images

Before he had scored a run, Amla survived an lbw shout from James Pattinson which was a touch too high and the umpire's not-out call stood. When he was on 30 he prodded softly at a Ben Hilfenhaus ball and the resulting edge fell just short of Ricky Ponting at second slip. Even after Amla had brought up his half-century, he still offered chances.

As he moved back to cut Nathan Lyon, Amla got an edge which flew between Matthew Wade and Clarke at first slip, who was not even able to react. On 74, he misread a Peter Siddle slower ball and offered a fairly simply return catch at waist height. Siddle spilt it.

This innings proved that Amla is not invincible. What sets him apart from other batsmen is that he is not affected when his weaknesses are exposed and that can only be because he is comfortable with himself and his batting. Instead of distraction or doubt, Amla only shows determination when a flaw is let out.

His ability to be unruffled is so well known that Australia's supposed 'dossier' of plans for the South Africans could come up with nothing technical to beat Amla. Instead, they hoped to sledge him out of the game, a tactic Johan Botha was certain would not work

It's a difficult thing to do - to steel oneself after being almost pushed over - but Alviro Petersen explained that it is possible. And Amla is able to do it better than others. "It's important to put it behind you. For however long the ball is in there, your heart does tend to leave your body but after that, you have to put it behind you," Petersen said. "Hashim really forgets about it and makes sure that the next ball is the important ball."

In the shower of accolades that have rained down on Amla in the last year, there hasn't been too much of a need to examine how he got there. But the reality is that in three of his last four hundreds, Amla has been dropped. Australia were the first guilty party when Michael Hussey put him down in Cape Town last year off the final ball of the day. Amla had a rare rush of blood to the head and drove in the air but got lucky and went on to usher South Africa to victory with Graeme Smith the next day.

Amla's offering of chances did not stop there. On his way to his triple-century, he offered a chance when he was on 40 when an edge went the way of Andrew Strauss in the slips. At Lord's two matches later, Amla gloved a short ball down the leg side when he was on 2 and Matt Prior could not hold on.

The lesson in all of that is simple: don't drop Amla, and it was one Australia learned the hard way. "You don't like giving class batsman like that a chance," James Pattinson admitted. "Because against a good batsman chances don't come very often but come tomorrow if we get our chances we will be snapping them up as quickly as possible."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ahmadk786 on (November 10, 2012, 8:42 GMT)

Sometimes Batsmen get lucky, but they also can have really unlucky dismissals as well.

take for example Hashims dismissal in last years world cup. whats the chances of hitting the ball into the ground only for it to bounce of a fielders shoe & get caught?

Posted by raghavan88 on (November 10, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

Australia should pick Ben Cutting for the next 2 games.He is in great form and can contribute as an all-rounder.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (November 10, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

The key is concentration and the patience to endure slow periods of play without letting it get to you. Many batsmen have too much of an ego for that. The other skill as mentioned that Amla has in spades is to genuinely forget any errors and turn his concentration on the next ball.

Posted by   on (November 10, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Good to see the sledging worked so well against Amla yesterday...

Posted by disco_bob on (November 10, 2012, 2:52 GMT)

"...but come tomorrow if we get our chances we will be snapping them up..." Could there be a more irritating comment than this gem from Pattinson. Sort of like "I'm going on a diet, starting tomorrow"

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (November 10, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

Rain. A good result for the aussies. If they get back on i reckon SA will get about 750 & declare

Posted by Saffie1987 on (November 9, 2012, 21:39 GMT)

People can talk about Amla having had some luck, but the same goes for all the other great batsman who have scored many runs! i bet that if you look at all the hundreds Kallis, Lara, Ponting, Tendulkar, Sangakarra have scored, there have innings where they also have been dropped! It's part and Parcel of the game!

Posted by thruthecovers on (November 9, 2012, 21:35 GMT)

I think we all have to reserve judgment on this pitch untill after SA had their turn to bowl. WIll leaving Imran out come back to haunt Smith? And Duminy out injured too now.

Posted by SCC08 on (November 9, 2012, 21:26 GMT)

These comments regarding a purple patch.. Lasted almost 3 years now... Least he doesn't get bowled by pie chuckers like Tendulkar does.

Posted by C.A-SA1987 on (November 9, 2012, 20:16 GMT)

@Posted by Harmony111 on (November 09 2012, 16:30 PM GMT).

As a Saffer, i would dare say say that Amla is a better ODI batsman than he is a test batsman. Have a look at his stats in ODI cricket. Averaging in the very high 50's, striking in the 90's, all while opening the batting. He scores runs for fun in pyjamas.

His test record is great. His ODI record is a statistical anomaly.

Posted by mikey76 on (November 9, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

Could be another painful couple of days for the Aussie trundlers, similar to when Cook was grinding them into the dirt a couple of years ago. Oh the pain. I think Jonathan Trott bowls quicker than Hilfenhaus.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (November 9, 2012, 19:38 GMT)

The important question is:Why have Australia not recieved a green top like what they asked for?Why did the groundsmen listen last year against India & produce very,very fast pitches?South Africa aren't touring Australia,this isn't an Australian pitch!It was the same case in England,those pitches looked more West Indian,very slow & perfect to bat on.

Posted by Uppercut07 on (November 9, 2012, 17:59 GMT)

Amla is an awesome batsman, there's no doubt abt that, my point is he has struggled against so called 'average' bowlers of SL(even when SA last toured SL). So he is being very average in general vs SL not just one series. My other point is pple heavily look down on SL bowling and under-estimate them all the time(including the writer of this article) and do not give due credit. @shan156 SL didn't have Murali last time they toured SA and they won their 1st ever Test match in SA

Posted by   on (November 9, 2012, 17:36 GMT)

the bearded man is at it again hahahahaha.keep dropping catches and the bearded man will make you pay.drops don't record in the scorebook. and everyone deserves at little luck sometimes. a day will come when someone will hold on to a blinder and he will have to walk back to the dressing room in disbelief. but that's how the game goes. you make use of your good luck and good fortune.many careers were delayed or finished because of hard luck like poor umpiring you take the sweet and the bitter equally.

Posted by Shan156 on (November 9, 2012, 16:52 GMT)

@Uppercut07 , you really need to understand some basics. So, your judgement of an attack's quality is based on ONE batsman's performance? And, to answer your question, no, Aus. and Eng. have always had better attacks than Lanka's who survived all these years due to the greatness of one man - Murali. Re: the article, Amla is in a purple patch and has had a lot of luck along the way. Cricket is a funny game though. The patch will end and he will soon find out that he is no Bradman and the Saffers are not the invincibles.

Posted by pranay_bangalore on (November 9, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

It would have done good if the writer has also mentioned the exceptional catches or jaffa deliveries that were produced to see the back of Amla in last one year.

Posted by Harmony111 on (November 9, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

Quite obviously this man is the best batsman in the world right now, esp in tests. In ODIs Virat Kohli probably has a better claim but Amla absolutely zooms past anyone else when it comes to tests. Gayle is def the best T20 batsman in the world. So Amla is on top in 2 of the 3 forms of the game, he is in a very dark and lasting purple patch right now. I see another 200+ knock from Amla tomorrow and SA scoring a min of 450. The Oldies Aussies will really be under huge pressure to face Steyn & Co then. Cricket is a funny unpredictable game but somehow SA don't look like losing this test match now.

Posted by jackthelad on (November 9, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

It's an old, old story and there is no ready, rational explanation but it seems to hold true - when you're in form, luck runs your way, chances are fluffed, decisions favour you: and when you're not, good shots find hands, and you couldn't get a favourable decision for love or money. Every batsman will experience both kinds of spell in a career, and Amla should ride his luck while it's flowing his way - there'll be plenty of bad to balance the good.

Posted by sawifan on (November 9, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

@Uppercuy07. No, it doesn't show that, it simply shows that stats can be manipulated any which way to prove a point you are trying to back. Amla is class, SRl bowlers are not (and i'm a massive SRL fan too).

Posted by JBerger on (November 9, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

This could be another prosperous series for Amla!

Posted by Trickstar on (November 9, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

Never seen any player get dropped as much as Amla it's freaky, in England if they had remembered how to catch he wouldn't have made a half century once and would ended it having had a pretty ordinary tour, it was comical how many times easy catches went down off him, must be something to do with the beard. Ateotd if you keep putting catches down off high quality batsmen they're all going to make you pay, big time.

Posted by Paulk on (November 9, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

The thing about Amla is he has been scoring a lot of runs and big runs. Very few big innings are completely chanceless. So his chances stand out. Most great batsmen (do we start calling him a 'great batsman' already?) are vulnerable early on in the innings and if they also rack up big hundreds and double hundreds with some regularity, they will offer a couple of chances along the way.

Posted by   on (November 9, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

There seems to be element of jealousy amongst critics of Amla. While critisizing Amla they forget to mention how many close calls and lives Tendulkar, Ponting, Sehwag got during their innings.

Posted by gnat9 on (November 9, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

There are some batsmen who should never be dropped, like Sachin Tendulkar and Hashim Amla. Drop them at your peril. The Aussies are going to pay dearly for bad fielding today.

Posted by   on (November 9, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

Dont count out Aus as yet. Tomorrow is most crucial day for the series and whoever wrests initiative will be victor but Aus is not out of it yet. Any thing less than 375 by SA, Aus shall come strong. Expecting mouthwatering duel tomorrow.

Posted by Mashq on (November 9, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Did any body look at the stats of SACHIN. In every big innings he got a chance/droped. I think in majority of them....

Posted by ozwriter on (November 9, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

agreed, amla should have been ICC cricketer of the year for 2012 IMO. marcio has really come out with some dribble, i wonder how many aussie centuries there will be this series nevermind how many "chanceless" ones

Posted by ozwriter on (November 9, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

if it happens once u are lucky, if it happens twice you might be very lucky but if it keeps happening series after series, then you must be great. and thats what amla is. most of the best batsmen give chances. clarke's triple century was full of chances, kallis's 84* had a few chances. i.e. all batsmen will get a chance now and then, but only the best will capitalise and make the opposition pay. kallis and amla are both amongst the best

Posted by Hammond on (November 9, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

@Marcio- good players make their own luck. An Aussie should know this the "great" Aussie side had a run of exceptional luck that lasted years (and ended in 2005).

Posted by EngineerKhan on (November 9, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

Only Inzamam, Nasser Hussain or Afridi are the guys which were never given chances (mean very very few). All else mostly cash on chances.

Posted by RayanSharif on (November 9, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

So the Sledge is not working!!! Now what? Are they bringing Cranes tomorrow to move this immovable object?

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 9, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

Well at least we have more wickets than England got against them!

Posted by OceanSaffa on (November 9, 2012, 12:49 GMT)

We all know who's the cricketer of the year. He is being doing this for the past 5 years. Now he is the rock of SA line up, Kallis bats with freedom.

Posted by Harmony111 on (November 9, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Quite obviously this man is the best batsman in the world right now, esp in tests. In ODIs Virat Kohli probably has a better claim but Amla absolutely zooms past anyone else when it comes to tests. Gayle is def the best T20 batsman in the world. So Amla is on top in 2 of the 3 forms of the game, he is in a very dark and lasting purple patch right now. I see another 200+ knock from Amla tomorrow and SA scoring a min of 450. The Oldies Aussies will really be under huge pressure to face Steyn & Co then. Cricket is a funny unpredictable game but somehow SA don't look like losing this test match now.

Posted by nav84 on (November 9, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

If this article was on Sachin, we would have had at least a 60 comments by now. Poor Amla has only 6 :D

Posted by Nuxxy on (November 9, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

@Uppercut07: No, all it means is that South Africa is the best place in the world to be a bowler. And statistics prove that. Sri Lanka have played both England and Australia recently. Compare the bowling there.

Posted by Gizza on (November 9, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

The cliche catches win matches is true. Often the main difference between teams is the fielding. The fielding can make or break bowlers who rely on fielders for their wickets (bowlers who move the ball away from the batsman most of which are right-handed like outswing bowlers and leggies). One wonders what Allan Donald or McGrath's bowling average and number of total wickets would have been if they had to rely on Indian or Pakistani slippers. The same can be said for the batting side. Strangely enough, most successful subcontinental bowlers in recent times have relied on LBW's or bowled as their primary method of dismissal (reverse swing and off-spinners). There are some exceptions but even Kumble used his googly and flipper to get his wickets instead of his mild legbreak.

Posted by stormy16 on (November 9, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

The amazing thing about Amla is his record away from home and against quality attack. They called it the best attack in the world till the SA batters showed Eng how to bat and Amla was in the thick of things there. He also has lots of runs in India - not many visiting batters have this luxury. There seems to be few ways around him and to think he is probably at the top of the one day batters with runs and strike rates.

Posted by Uppercut07 on (November 9, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

congrats Amla for his awesome run of form. However he averages 34 against SL 'AT HOME', and 45 vs Aus and Eng.and pple say SL have a WEAK bowling attack!! :D) does this mean Aussie and English attacks r weaker than SL's ??

Posted by Marcio on (November 9, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

Cricket is a funny game. Amla's good run has also coincided with a run of excellent luck, as pointed out in the article. One thing the writer didn't mention was that before he had scored a run he was given not out LBW with the replay showing the ball would have clipped the top of middle, pitiching dead in line. He must have been a 50/50 chance of getting a raised finger from the ump there, and the decision would have stood even upon review. Sometimes luck is the difference between a duck and a century (which he'll probably now get).

Posted by freeurmind101 on (November 9, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

How on earth was Amla not cricketer of the year?

Posted by mahjut on (November 9, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

KP was dropped 5 times in his career creating 2005 ashes innings! not sure how much it matters ... I once followed a personal theory along these lines and trawled through the comentary of all Gilchrist's innings (over a particular period) and found that if i culculated each 'drop' as 'out' his average dropped horribly ... when i also decided that each "comprehensively beaten" (indicating a blip in technique or concentration) as 'out' - the ave was reduced to that of a traditional tailender. What i came away with eventually though was still the knowing that he was simply a great bat!!

Posted by thebarmyarmy on (November 9, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

There is no doubt this South African team is number 1 at the moment and probably will be for the next year or so. The thing I find hillarious is that Australia think they will be number 1 after this series.

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