England v SA, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day August 19, 2012

Amla gesture to SA team ethic

  shares 21

The usually undemonstrative Hashim Amla did a strange thing when he reached his century at Lord's. He demonstrated something. A television set drawn mid-air was his way of dedicating the ton to the team's video analyst, Prassana Agoram, one of the squadron of back-room staff who have all been credited with making the South African team the strong unit they have become.

"It was just an acknowledgment of the amount of work he puts in," Amla said, when explaining his gesture. "He said something really inspirational to me before the series which is why I did it." Amla would not reveal what Agoram had said, saying "it's a personal thing" but his acknowledgment was a telling detail about the new culture of the South African team.

Gary Kirsten has created a community, which Dale Steyn said "trusts" each other as part of the key to their success. Apart from a head coach, an assistant coach, a bowling coach and the usual medical and administrative staff - physiotherapist, media manager and logistics manager, they also have a performance director in Paddy Upton and an adventurer in Mike Horn. Both are not with the team all the time but their influence is obvious.

Ever since the Switzerland bonding exercise at Horn's home, South Africa have appeared mentally tougher than they have ever been before. They have been willing to reach deeper, pull harder, think bigger and play tougher and it is those things that have made them the better side for large chunks of the series.

Amla was hesitant to say the change had been recent. "It's been like this for quite a few years. It's not all of a sudden," he said. "But the way some of the lower order guys came to the party has been a hallmark for the last two Tests."

Without making the point explicitly, Amla still made it. Crucial performances have come from unlikely places and South Africa have never looked out of control. "The games have ebbed and flowed in different situations and we've managed to get out of bad situations at times," Amla said.

The ability to bat on even when runs are not being scored, something only Jonny Bairstow was able to muster for England, has been one of the things that set South Africa apart. At Leeds, Alviro Petersen and Jacques Rudolph battled through a tricky first hour, at Lord's, Amla and Dale Steyn did it. "We were in a delicate position but we knew we had to hang in there for about 30 minutes and that really set up the day for us. Then Vernon and Morne showed a lot of guts as well later on," Amla said.

The ability to take wickets, even on pitches that look like batting could continue for months on, has been the other. South Africa took 20 wickets at The Oval where England could only manage two, on a surface far less helpful than the one at Lord's. Even though a draw will still give them the series win and No.1 ranking, Amla said they have bigger targets in their sights.

"We are thinking of the win. We do understand it's going to take a lot of hard work but if we show the intensity we showed this evening, we can win."

England face the uphill battle of needing to score over 330 runs on a fifth day pitch, something Amla said is hard enough without bigger things at stake. "Any score above 300 is a very difficult ask," he said. "I think any score above 250, especially on the last innings when the wicket is deteriorating is difficult."

Asked if South Africa will think up new ways to keep England up against it, Amla said they do not need to, because the situation is fraught enough for their opposition. "The wicket itself is good to bat on but in the last innings, there is this thing called pressure that exists. When we were batting we felt it. England have to make the play and if we hit our areas for long enough, they are going to have look to score. We are going to try and stick to our plan. That situation alone creates enough pressure."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | August 20, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Amla is absolutely fantastic! What a player to have in a tough situation! Kudos Mate!

  • POSTED BY munchovski on | August 20, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    What a fantastic role model Amla is proving to be, not to mention an absolutely brilliant batsman. As one of many (I assume) South African supporters who had considerable doubts about his long term prospects as a cricketer in bygone years I would like to unreservedly admit that my proverbial pants are currently keeping my ankles very warm, proverbially. Very warm indeed. He is a credit to his culture, his country and cricket in general

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    And U are all about humility and keeping it simple, SIR bob jones

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 20, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    @SirBobJones, understand it is tough watching opponents doing well. Let them celebrate whiever way they want, it really is none of your business. I remember Hussain doing a strange celebration long time back when he was referring to monkey off his back etc. I hated it then, but in hindsight, I do see the point he was making. Anyway, these are things which makes viewing interesting. Obviously.... not for you.

  • POSTED BY Enigma734 on | August 20, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    In response to XYLO, Amla's name is already on the board, (so i don't think he would tell them to do it now. so the commentators seriously don't know their history. i guess the Saffa's have shown the English how to play cricket. Wonder whats going to happen in the 1 dayer's and T20 now that England is so demoralized.

  • POSTED BY Lightforce on | August 20, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    It doesnt matter how humble or how good a player is, people like SirBobJones will always find a reason to criticize. Enjoy the talent and keep quiet if you have nothing of value to add.

    @cheguramana - thats probably a safer route, and more likely to get us the no1 spot, but I always believe that if you want to be a champion, you need to be able to assert yourself confidently. How much more beautiful to white-wash (does 2-0 qualify as WW?) the current no1 in the world in their backyard to take the throne yourself?

  • POSTED BY StaalBurgher on | August 20, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    @SIRSOBERS - Why would you unnecessarily weaken your batting lineup like that? Kallis also bowls a few so having 5 seamers and a spinner is way too many. The bowlers wouldn't have enough overs to actually divide between them. The only change to this team is perhaps a specialist wicketkeeper but unfortunately Tsolekile is the same weakness with the bat as Boucher.

  • POSTED BY Star_Striker on | August 20, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    @ disco_bob, Well said. While I do not fancy KP, I think that the press has been very unfair to him in the articles they have written about him. Who really knows what's in someone's heart and mind until they decide to disclose it?

  • POSTED BY cheguramana on | August 20, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    Very balanced and mature responses from Amla. The last bit was the best. SA shud not try to do something special or different. They shud just stick to their plans and execute. That wl create enough pressure on England. Go SA !!

  • POSTED BY RedShirt on | August 20, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    @SirBobJOnes ... you made me laugh. Raising the bat and moving on to their post match presentation to thank whoever they want is good. No need for the cryptic messages.

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | August 20, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Amla is absolutely fantastic! What a player to have in a tough situation! Kudos Mate!

  • POSTED BY munchovski on | August 20, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    What a fantastic role model Amla is proving to be, not to mention an absolutely brilliant batsman. As one of many (I assume) South African supporters who had considerable doubts about his long term prospects as a cricketer in bygone years I would like to unreservedly admit that my proverbial pants are currently keeping my ankles very warm, proverbially. Very warm indeed. He is a credit to his culture, his country and cricket in general

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    And U are all about humility and keeping it simple, SIR bob jones

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | August 20, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    @SirBobJones, understand it is tough watching opponents doing well. Let them celebrate whiever way they want, it really is none of your business. I remember Hussain doing a strange celebration long time back when he was referring to monkey off his back etc. I hated it then, but in hindsight, I do see the point he was making. Anyway, these are things which makes viewing interesting. Obviously.... not for you.

  • POSTED BY Enigma734 on | August 20, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    In response to XYLO, Amla's name is already on the board, (so i don't think he would tell them to do it now. so the commentators seriously don't know their history. i guess the Saffa's have shown the English how to play cricket. Wonder whats going to happen in the 1 dayer's and T20 now that England is so demoralized.

  • POSTED BY Lightforce on | August 20, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    It doesnt matter how humble or how good a player is, people like SirBobJones will always find a reason to criticize. Enjoy the talent and keep quiet if you have nothing of value to add.

    @cheguramana - thats probably a safer route, and more likely to get us the no1 spot, but I always believe that if you want to be a champion, you need to be able to assert yourself confidently. How much more beautiful to white-wash (does 2-0 qualify as WW?) the current no1 in the world in their backyard to take the throne yourself?

  • POSTED BY StaalBurgher on | August 20, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    @SIRSOBERS - Why would you unnecessarily weaken your batting lineup like that? Kallis also bowls a few so having 5 seamers and a spinner is way too many. The bowlers wouldn't have enough overs to actually divide between them. The only change to this team is perhaps a specialist wicketkeeper but unfortunately Tsolekile is the same weakness with the bat as Boucher.

  • POSTED BY Star_Striker on | August 20, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    @ disco_bob, Well said. While I do not fancy KP, I think that the press has been very unfair to him in the articles they have written about him. Who really knows what's in someone's heart and mind until they decide to disclose it?

  • POSTED BY cheguramana on | August 20, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    Very balanced and mature responses from Amla. The last bit was the best. SA shud not try to do something special or different. They shud just stick to their plans and execute. That wl create enough pressure on England. Go SA !!

  • POSTED BY RedShirt on | August 20, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    @SirBobJOnes ... you made me laugh. Raising the bat and moving on to their post match presentation to thank whoever they want is good. No need for the cryptic messages.

  • POSTED BY KunzMan on | August 20, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    @'Sir'BobJones...yeah, it is just you! :p

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    @SirBobJones. At least we know what you will do when you score a ton in a test match!

  • POSTED BY US_Indian on | August 20, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    What is wrong if he acknowledges those unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to make great things happen, it is not just the players or the head coach who can create miracles but they need all the support without that nothing can be achieved. Remember it is a team game which doesnot mean only the playing 11 or the 15 but everyone associated with the team. sometimes simple things or gestures like this can act as a stimulants and motivational factors in bringing much more from any individual. It is always we did rather than I did. Success or failures should be taken collectively and shared with pride in case of success and with shame and a promise to do better in the case of failures. This guy Hashim Amla is a thorough gentleman , very down to earth and humble and if some one has said a thing or two to encourage or motivate or inspire him and if that has brought in a dramatic change in him , he has just acknowledged and said thanks to you Sir. Appreciate him for these small gestures.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | August 20, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    @xlyo, yes I thought the same thing. That says more about the commentators and nothing about Amla. It should serve as a reminder that while they know their cricket that does not give them any extra insight into the man. This should also serve as a reminder that until KP reveals all in his eventual biography, it's best not to speculate about his mind either.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    The other obvious option is to replace Rudolph with Tsostbe I mean JP batting at 8 and Philander 9 can easily be 7 8 with Tsotsobe added, now that would be a bowling attack Steyn Morkell Philander Tsotsobe and Tahir !!!

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 20, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    It's not that long ago the Saffas got pantsed at home by Sri Lanka in a live test, so I think it really needs to be all taken with a grain of salt. Amla is bloody good though!

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    Amla is the best TEST batsman in the world right now. the only weakness in this SA side is Rudolph I think he should be replaced with a younger more aggressive batsman Tsotbe should also play more on pitches that don't require spin.

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 20, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    A champion cricketer and a gentleman as well. Puts the team first & foremost for a welcome change. Luv the way he goes about his cricket, just so unassuming and modest, a thorough professional. Next stop for SA is AUS (in tests), and that series will be dominated by the bowlers from both sides. SA are the undoubted favourites, I'll be happy if AUS can manage a drawn series against the legitimate World Champs. One things for sure, for AUS to have any chance of winning the series, Clarke/Ponting/Hussey must all have very good series with the bat, but I'm not overly confident this will occur. At least Clarkey can show the Poms how a good cricketing brain goes about the role of captaincy on a cricket field - he won't be defensive, and he'll be looking to win from day 1.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 20, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    Amla is an absolute gun. South Africa look a united front, no wonder they are doing so well.

  • POSTED BY sk12 on | August 19, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    Anyone imagine KP doing such a thing on reaching 100??

  • POSTED BY xylo on | August 19, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    ah... the commentators were saying that Amla was saying, "Put my name on the board!".

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  • POSTED BY xylo on | August 19, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    ah... the commentators were saying that Amla was saying, "Put my name on the board!".

  • POSTED BY sk12 on | August 19, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    Anyone imagine KP doing such a thing on reaching 100??

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | August 20, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    Amla is an absolute gun. South Africa look a united front, no wonder they are doing so well.

  • POSTED BY thebrotherswaugh on | August 20, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    A champion cricketer and a gentleman as well. Puts the team first & foremost for a welcome change. Luv the way he goes about his cricket, just so unassuming and modest, a thorough professional. Next stop for SA is AUS (in tests), and that series will be dominated by the bowlers from both sides. SA are the undoubted favourites, I'll be happy if AUS can manage a drawn series against the legitimate World Champs. One things for sure, for AUS to have any chance of winning the series, Clarke/Ponting/Hussey must all have very good series with the bat, but I'm not overly confident this will occur. At least Clarkey can show the Poms how a good cricketing brain goes about the role of captaincy on a cricket field - he won't be defensive, and he'll be looking to win from day 1.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    Amla is the best TEST batsman in the world right now. the only weakness in this SA side is Rudolph I think he should be replaced with a younger more aggressive batsman Tsotbe should also play more on pitches that don't require spin.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | August 20, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    It's not that long ago the Saffas got pantsed at home by Sri Lanka in a live test, so I think it really needs to be all taken with a grain of salt. Amla is bloody good though!

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | August 20, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    The other obvious option is to replace Rudolph with Tsostbe I mean JP batting at 8 and Philander 9 can easily be 7 8 with Tsotsobe added, now that would be a bowling attack Steyn Morkell Philander Tsotsobe and Tahir !!!

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | August 20, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    @xlyo, yes I thought the same thing. That says more about the commentators and nothing about Amla. It should serve as a reminder that while they know their cricket that does not give them any extra insight into the man. This should also serve as a reminder that until KP reveals all in his eventual biography, it's best not to speculate about his mind either.

  • POSTED BY US_Indian on | August 20, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    What is wrong if he acknowledges those unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to make great things happen, it is not just the players or the head coach who can create miracles but they need all the support without that nothing can be achieved. Remember it is a team game which doesnot mean only the playing 11 or the 15 but everyone associated with the team. sometimes simple things or gestures like this can act as a stimulants and motivational factors in bringing much more from any individual. It is always we did rather than I did. Success or failures should be taken collectively and shared with pride in case of success and with shame and a promise to do better in the case of failures. This guy Hashim Amla is a thorough gentleman , very down to earth and humble and if some one has said a thing or two to encourage or motivate or inspire him and if that has brought in a dramatic change in him , he has just acknowledged and said thanks to you Sir. Appreciate him for these small gestures.

  • POSTED BY on | August 20, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    @SirBobJones. At least we know what you will do when you score a ton in a test match!