July 27, 2012

South African cricket

Amla has capacity to break new ground

Abhishek Mukherjee

Hashim Amla's 311 not out against England at The Oval may have been the first triple-century by a South African, but it assumes more significance because he was a black and would not have been allowed to represent his country under apartheid rule. Richard Calland, in Mail & Guardian, also points out Amla's ability to break new ground by captaining the side in future.

When he was first selected for the Proteas in his first three Tests, against India and then England in 2004, Amla struggled. His technique was hopeless, some of the commentators said. Though he offered a mealy-mouthed voice of contrition this week, the legendary Barry Richards was one of the loudest critics at the time.

Now, six years and 50 or so Tests down the line, Amla is headed towards the pantheon of the game's greatest players. Wearing his statistical anorak this week, Naidoo celebrated Amla's success by revealing that, after 60 Tests, Amla's batting record was better than all his compatriots in the highly esteemed South African batting line-up, including the darling of the cricketing media, Jacques Kallis. Given his temperament and fitness, there is every reason to think Amla will play another 60 Tests in the next six to seven years and score a great many more runs, which raises a new question: Is there any good reason he should not be the next captain?

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