Amla 'a bit embarrassed' by beating Richards to 4000
This was a landmark day for Hashim Amla. He doesn't play for the Dolphins anymore, technically his home ground is Cape Town now. However, Kingsmead remains his home ground in public perception, you just can't separate the two. On Sunday he finally brought up his first international hundred at home. Along the way, when he scored his 59th run, Amla became the fastest to 4000 ODI runs, beating Viv Richards' record by seven innings. Amla was rather embarrassed about that. About the general batting, he kept going back to praising his opening partner Quinton de Kock, with whom he became only the second pairing in ODIs to have put up back-to-back 150-plus stands. Listening to him, you almost felt like he had not done anything substantial, and that it is not him you should be talking about.
"Feel a bit embarrassed to have it because Sir Viv Richards is certainly the master blaster, the original great batsman," Amla said of the record of fastest to 4000 runs. "He is more deserving than anyone else. I have met him on a few occasions, so it makes even more embarrassing. It would be befitting if he was ahead." By this point he was almost giggling, trying to hide, in his words, embarrassment.
"Whatever the case be, there is a lot of one-day cricket these days and no doubt someone else will come along and beat that and the game will just carry on."
When asked about finally getting a hundred at home, Amla could speak only two sentences before moving on to de Kock. "Very happy. Certainly it has been one of my leaner scoring grounds, so I am glad to get some runs. My partnership with Quinny was very vital. He has been batting beautifully. We have kind of clicked a bit. We have kind of got something going."
Amla went on to praise de Kock further. "He has come a long way from the time we were in Sri Lanka, and there were a few doubts about his ability opening the batting against spin," Amla said. "But against Pakistan and against India here he has shown he has got all attributes to be a great player. He scores quickly, he has got great thinking when he is batting. I was telling someone else that I have been blown away by the fact that he has got a great calmness when he bats. So it has been a good experience."
Amla said de Kock has improved a lot mentally. "The way he is approaching his game now [shows it]," Amla said. "We chat between overs, certainly that's the point that comes through. He has got a great idea on how to score runs. He is an attacking batsman. That's the best thing you can have as an opener in a one-day team.
"Someone who can take the attack to the bowlers, but when the need be... We have had some difficult batting situations - I remember he came at No. 3 in PE [against Pakistan], it wasn't that easy to score, and he assessed that quite quickly, and that is a really good thing. He has played under 20 one-day games. Adjusting like that, hopefully he has got a very bright future."
At one point, Amla was told he was probably the best Test batsman in the world, and might be headed towards becoming the best ODI opener. Amla couldn't have been more embarrassed. "I am not the best Test batsman in the world," he said. "Everybody goes through certain phases in their career when they score a lot of runs, and then they go through leaner phases. Fortunately I have managed to get some runs. But I am not going to look too far ahead."
And immediately he went back to de Kock. "You never know what is around the corner," Amla said. "Guys like Quinton coming along. He is putting his hand up to be probably one of the best. It's early to talk and put too much pressure on the youngster, but I think Quinny has a bright future as an opening batsman. For me I am just going to block up one end while he smashes it all over."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo