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Hashim Amla has come a long way from the first time England encountered him as a circumspect batsman in 2004 to become one of South Africa's batting mainstay. Stephen Brenkely in the Independent talks to Amla ahead of the upcoming series between the No. 1 and No. 2 sides in Test cricket.
Despite the four centuries he had made earlier that South African domestic season, there was a barely suppressed suspicion that he was merely part of the quota system designed to ensure that the team at least partly represented the ethnic composition of the country. Sympathy was tinged with an unkind laughter.
They are not laughing now. Amla, still with a method not necessarily preferred by conventional coaching manuals, has become one of the world's leading batsmen in all forms of the game. Perhaps it is his slight unorthodoxy, allied to vast powers of concentration, that has fooled bowlers.