South Africa news May 19, 2014

Amla willing to take up Test captaincy

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Hashim Amla has made himself available for consideration for the job of South Africa's next Test captain. ESPNcricinfo understands Amla, who gave up the vice-captaincy of the limited-overs teams in February last year, has had a change of heart about leadership and has informed the selection panel that he can be considered for the role.

That brings to four the number of candidates who will be considered to replace Graeme Smith, who retired in March. While AB de Villiers, who announced his readiness to lead in an interview last week, and Faf du Plessis are considered front-runners for the job, with JP Duminy being talked about as an outside possibility, Amla's interest in the role adds a new dimension to the debate because he has been spoken about as a preferred choice in the past.

Amla was picked as de Villiers' deputy in the shorter formats of the game in July 2011. He ended up leading South Africa in what should have been de Villiers' first series in charge in October that year - against Australia - because de Villiers was injured. He also led a South African XI in an unofficial tri-series in Zimbabwe in June 2012, in which South Africa lost to both the Zimbabwean and Bangladesh sides.

But Amla's reluctance to accept the position was obvious when he chose not to stand in for de Villiers in the 2012-13 season. De Villiers asked for a break from the T20s against New Zealand in December 2012 and was suspended for slow over-rates in the ODI series that followed. Du Plessis took over on both occasions.

At the time, Amla was frank about his feelings on captaincy. "There is no point me being vice-captain if I am not going to captain when the captain isn't around," he said in January last year . Amla also asked for a sabbatical from T20 cricket for the remainder of 2013.

However, when the new season began at the end of 2013, Amla changed his decision on T20 participation and agreed to play in a series against Pakistan. He opened the batting with Quinton de Kock and was seen as being a foil to the explosive young batsman at the other end. Amla was also part of South Africa's World Twenty20 campaign where, although he was criticised for having a slow strike rate, he finished the tournament as their second-highest run-scorer, and only JP Duminy and AB de Villiers scored quicker than Amla among batsmen who played all games.

It has since emerged T20 cricket is not the only thing Amla has changed his mind about. He has also decided he is not as averse to captaincy as he first was - news which, a source close to the situation said, has made the selectors' jobs a lot more difficult. Despite Amla's soft-spoken nature, he is seen as an automatic choice for leader because of his experience in the international game, which du Plessis does not have, and the fact that he is not overburdened by other responsibilities, which de Villiers, who is also South Africa's wicket-keeper is. Amla has also captained in the past, which Duminy has not.

He led South Africa's Under-19 side in the 2002 World Cup and ended up as the third highest run-getter in the team with an average of 27.28. He also captained his domestic side, the Dolphins, ten years ago, in the 2004-05 season and although he asked to be relieved of his duties at the end of that summer, he also 1,000 first-class runs for the first time and scored his first double-century. Then, Amla was just 22 years old and said he believed he needed more time to work on his own batting.

Now, he has had that time. Amla is regarded as one of South Africa's most important batsmen in all formats, a role that will be enhanced in the absence of both Smith and Jaques Kallis. According to insiders, Amla has also been more vocal in the dressing room and added to the think-tank in the field which has made him seem ready to take over as captain.

South Africa's selection panel will make their recommendation for the next Test captain to Cricket South Africa's board at their meeting on June 3. The board will then have to either reject or ratify that choice. The new captain's first assignment is a two-Test series in Sri Lanka in July followed by a one-off Test against Zimbabwe in August.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Greatest_Game on May 20, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    This is a surprising development. I was convinced that Hash was seat set against captaincy, and wrote just yesterday that it was possible, but extremely unlikely that he would even consider it.

    I have immense respect for hash - but then who does not. I'm sure he commands enormous respect in the dressing room, and I have to think that thee is no other contender who would be a better leader. I can see him building a very egalitarian team, with no cliques, and being very inspirational.

    I really have no idea of his on field capabilities. Would he be conservative, tentative, attacking? Does he have well developed strategical thinking capabilities? He certainly is effective at batting strategies, responding quickly & positively to fielding changes.

    This is a welcome development, as it offers SA an entirely different option. I have not had any time to think this over, but I have to say my gut reaction is that he is very likely to get the nod! And I think it might be a really good decision

  • anton_ego on May 22, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    This is a no-brainer. Got to be Faf. There are many reasons for that. Gone are the days when the captain walked out to bat at the top (at least in limited overs cricket). These days, successful captains always come to finish off the game. It generates respect among players and pride in the job. For example, Dhoni, Misbah, McCullum and Clarke. Some of the things a successful captain like a Dhoni or a Clarke do on the field, an Amla cannot do. The stare Dhoni gives at a fielder when he drops a catch, it can convey the msg 100 times stronger than words. SA needs such an authoritative and commanding captain. Also Amla won't continue as silly point fielder which is not a place for a captain due to ego. ABDe, even though i am a big fan, has never delivered when the weight of the world is upon him. Take for example 2011 WC QF, 2013 Champions trophy SF, 2014 T20WC SF, etc. Not a good track record for an aspiring captain. It's definitely Faf for me.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on May 21, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    @Greatest_game I think the 'someone else' selection is probably for Dean Elgar.

    Onto Captaincy - for me it should be AB. I, the T20 world cup when AB took over Captaincy because Faff was suspended, he really upped his game and you could see he really wanted it. Faff blew it in that Tournament for me. JP is nowhere nearly consistent enough in Test cricket to warrant Captaincy.

    Amla, I believe would be a good captain. But I am averse to having 3 different captains in every format. Furthermore, on a selfish note. If AB is made Test Captain, the gloves will then without doubt go to De Kock - which I am in favour of.

  • zashrafi on May 20, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    I don't think Amla should captain SA. He is better asset as a batsmen.

  • Newlandsfaithful on May 20, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    Hash's form has been poor of late, so much so that I don't think he could really command that much respect as the captain. I think Hash's priority should be to sort his head out and get back in the game.

  • Sageleaf on May 20, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    I'm really surprised that SA looking for a new skipper.... There is no choice...only AB. He is smart..intelligent..excellent batsman and fielder also a team man. I have spoken to him few times off the field in Sri Lanka...and i think SA does not have look anywhere...just name is Captain...and he is the only choice. buy trying to promote few guys...you are not going to bring unity among the team...I hope it will be AB...

  • Cricket_theBestGame on May 20, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    i'd hate to see Hashim's batting affected by captaincy. he is too good a player for the world cricket not to be performing. so i'd go with AB and make Hashim VC.

    FAF and dumney. no way.

  • RoyRulez on May 20, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    AB deserves a stint as captain after being the deputy for 3 years. The Smith decision was a materstroke but in most cases we see the vice captain graduating. So, AB should get a chance ahead of Amla or Faf.

    @Clan_McLachlan... Couldn't agree more with you. In Botha, Saffas lost a defensive spinner, a decent lower order bat and a potential captain. However, your choice of Alviro is surprising. He hardly deserves a place in the XI.

  • Greatest_Game on May 20, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    I see in the poll results that there are 9 votes for "someone else."

  • on May 20, 2014, 2:39 GMT

    I would like to see Amla as a captain but i just get the feeling that ABD is going to be more overburdened by CSA. Hope they make a choice based on merit and leadership qualities rather on reputation or selection bias or observer bias...

  • Greatest_Game on May 20, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    This is a surprising development. I was convinced that Hash was seat set against captaincy, and wrote just yesterday that it was possible, but extremely unlikely that he would even consider it.

    I have immense respect for hash - but then who does not. I'm sure he commands enormous respect in the dressing room, and I have to think that thee is no other contender who would be a better leader. I can see him building a very egalitarian team, with no cliques, and being very inspirational.

    I really have no idea of his on field capabilities. Would he be conservative, tentative, attacking? Does he have well developed strategical thinking capabilities? He certainly is effective at batting strategies, responding quickly & positively to fielding changes.

    This is a welcome development, as it offers SA an entirely different option. I have not had any time to think this over, but I have to say my gut reaction is that he is very likely to get the nod! And I think it might be a really good decision

  • anton_ego on May 22, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    This is a no-brainer. Got to be Faf. There are many reasons for that. Gone are the days when the captain walked out to bat at the top (at least in limited overs cricket). These days, successful captains always come to finish off the game. It generates respect among players and pride in the job. For example, Dhoni, Misbah, McCullum and Clarke. Some of the things a successful captain like a Dhoni or a Clarke do on the field, an Amla cannot do. The stare Dhoni gives at a fielder when he drops a catch, it can convey the msg 100 times stronger than words. SA needs such an authoritative and commanding captain. Also Amla won't continue as silly point fielder which is not a place for a captain due to ego. ABDe, even though i am a big fan, has never delivered when the weight of the world is upon him. Take for example 2011 WC QF, 2013 Champions trophy SF, 2014 T20WC SF, etc. Not a good track record for an aspiring captain. It's definitely Faf for me.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on May 21, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    @Greatest_game I think the 'someone else' selection is probably for Dean Elgar.

    Onto Captaincy - for me it should be AB. I, the T20 world cup when AB took over Captaincy because Faff was suspended, he really upped his game and you could see he really wanted it. Faff blew it in that Tournament for me. JP is nowhere nearly consistent enough in Test cricket to warrant Captaincy.

    Amla, I believe would be a good captain. But I am averse to having 3 different captains in every format. Furthermore, on a selfish note. If AB is made Test Captain, the gloves will then without doubt go to De Kock - which I am in favour of.

  • zashrafi on May 20, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    I don't think Amla should captain SA. He is better asset as a batsmen.

  • Newlandsfaithful on May 20, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    Hash's form has been poor of late, so much so that I don't think he could really command that much respect as the captain. I think Hash's priority should be to sort his head out and get back in the game.

  • Sageleaf on May 20, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    I'm really surprised that SA looking for a new skipper.... There is no choice...only AB. He is smart..intelligent..excellent batsman and fielder also a team man. I have spoken to him few times off the field in Sri Lanka...and i think SA does not have look anywhere...just name is Captain...and he is the only choice. buy trying to promote few guys...you are not going to bring unity among the team...I hope it will be AB...

  • Cricket_theBestGame on May 20, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    i'd hate to see Hashim's batting affected by captaincy. he is too good a player for the world cricket not to be performing. so i'd go with AB and make Hashim VC.

    FAF and dumney. no way.

  • RoyRulez on May 20, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    AB deserves a stint as captain after being the deputy for 3 years. The Smith decision was a materstroke but in most cases we see the vice captain graduating. So, AB should get a chance ahead of Amla or Faf.

    @Clan_McLachlan... Couldn't agree more with you. In Botha, Saffas lost a defensive spinner, a decent lower order bat and a potential captain. However, your choice of Alviro is surprising. He hardly deserves a place in the XI.

  • Greatest_Game on May 20, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    I see in the poll results that there are 9 votes for "someone else."

  • on May 20, 2014, 2:39 GMT

    I would like to see Amla as a captain but i just get the feeling that ABD is going to be more overburdened by CSA. Hope they make a choice based on merit and leadership qualities rather on reputation or selection bias or observer bias...

  • pontingkhan on May 20, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    AB=Test Captain Amla=One Day captain JP=T20

  • ToneMalone on May 20, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    So it looks like South Africa have four feasible options: AB, Faf, Duminy & Petersen.

    I don't know the best option, but I think the selectors need to take a step back and look at the most instinctive tactician and leader of people who's committed to the role, and make those the most important criteria.

    If that person doesn't have a lot of captaincy experience, or already has a lot on their plate, give them an experienced vice-captain who can share the load. In the end, a cricketer with true leadership instincts can grow into the role, especially with a disciplined side like S Africa. But a player without those instincts will continue to struggle, regardless of their past experience.

  • philander50 on May 19, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    @ZFCOutkast - you must joking, tsolekile in the national side, i would go for de kock as keeper and van zyl in place of bazuma

  • duncanmoo on May 19, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    If Amla has offered his services you can be sure it was a carefully considered decision, he will put the same application and dedication into captaincy as his batting. The only question is whether he can surprise the opposition in the field, tactics, strategy and having to deal with the media and the Australians! I hope he is chosen but I do not envy whoever is chosen Smith is a tough act to follow in many respects.

  • Clan_McLachlan on May 19, 2014, 15:23 GMT

    Johan Botha would be the next best captain. But he's not in the team. Alviro Petersen has the best domestic captaincy credentials in the team. But his place isn't that secure. AB is the people's choice. But he has no real captaincy cred. Faf has some captaincy cred. But his place isn't all that secure either. Duminy has no captaincy cred. Amla has some domestic captaincy cred. But is his heart really in it?

    If it were me I'd pick Alviro. I think the selectors are going to go with Amla.

  • AltafPatel on May 19, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    He should be given responsibility as batsman, and rather load of captaincy be given to like duPlessis or AB.

  • twistedseatbelt on May 19, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    Picking AB as captain is wrong, he constantly throws his wicket away when victory is in sight, matches the Proteas then end up drawing or losing. AB should be left to do what he does best, bat with gay abandon, throw his wicket away in ever more creative ways, play little cameos, keep wicket and get all the headlines .. ie let him be the colourful allrounder..the Freddy Flintoff of the team, doesnt every team need a mascot. Leave the captaincy to Faf which will enable Amla, who now has to bat for three people (himself, Kallis and Smith), to better handle the pressure.

  • on May 19, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    I think Amla should only concentrate on his batting. RSA need runs from him after Smith-Kallis retirement. Let AB do the captaincy and other man focus on their batting. AB has the potential to lead and he has shown in past. We've seen Amla leading before but he has not impressed much with both bat and captaincy. His batting is important for the team.

  • davey_boy_saffa on May 19, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    In general, captains are selected based upon their experience, their level of performance and the position that they occupy in the team (in this instane JP occupies a bowling and batting role). There are, in essence, three main responsibilities that captains have for the team. To act as a liaison between the coaching staff and the team.To act as a leader during all team activities. To represent the team at events, meetings, and press conferences. I think JP has displayed all of these qualities and deserves a shot as our test captain.

  • on May 19, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    I think its may be defects on his batting......

  • Insightful2013 on May 19, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    I think Amla would make a great captain. His approach to batting, points to a measured, considered man. This is only possible of someone who is aware of his deficiencies and himself. It means an ability to think. This should be the first attribute of a captain. He will obviously lead by example since his stats are astounding which should give him the required respect, but his approach would surely trickle down. He would inevitably captain in a considered way, which should influence all others to emulate, which can only be good for results. His unemotional approach and obvious steely resolve should produce good results.

  • Chris_Howard on May 19, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    No wonder RSA are the best. When they've got four players who could be captain. Not to mention, Steyn who would be considered if he wasn't a bowler.

    It's like in Australia when Waugh retired, there were several genuine contenders - Ponting, Gilchrist, Warne plus Hayden and McGrath could easily have been considered if keen.

    Makes me think that RSA have definitely got some more good years ahead of them.

  • ZCFOutkast on May 19, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    Fair enough. Amla can be Test captain. Good of him to offer his services. AB, Faf&Duminy were rather a poor man's options anyway.

    However, AB must return to his Test opener's role because we need all the seniors to step up! After failing at the role years ago, I'm sure now since some people say he's the best batsman in world cricket, it shouldn't be too much to ask him to fill Smith's shoes.

    TEST XI: Alviro, AB(vc), Amla(c), Faf, Elgar, JP, Bavuma, Tsolekile(wk), Philander, Parnell, Steyn

    Alviro, Duminy & Faf can now just focus on ther games. Hash will take care of things!

  • stormy16 on May 19, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    Why do I get the strange feeling SA will appoint a captain based on something other than leadership?

  • JasonGray on May 19, 2014, 11:19 GMT

    if ya don't give person a chance, how would ya know how they would perform ay? i say, give him the job for couple of series n see how he goes. ab will be overwhelmed if ya give him the job in all the formats. i think saffas got lot more worries in the odi format. with the world cup coming, they better sort out their side and how not to choke. churr from nz cuzz.

  • asiacricket1234 on May 19, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    I really like Amla. He is a great batsman and a wonderful person but I don't think he has the leadership quality. When he did lead SA he looked clueless. He is not a captaincy material on the other hand AB is a really smart guy and seemed confident as a leader. AB should lead SA in all format of the game

  • aeroboy.ae on May 19, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    i think Amla should be well considered as the SA's next test captain.

  • fkhawaja on May 19, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    I think SA will do good with AB as captain of the shorter formats and HA as test captain. it would be ideal .

  • EARTHQUAKE_JATT on May 19, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    AB plays better under pressure hence i think he, like Clarke before him, will play better with the captaincy commitment

  • SpadeaSpade on May 19, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    From the sideline Hashim is a very fine batsmen, But does he look like a South African Captain, I would think not. South Africa have a tenacious in your face way of playing cricket and I do not see Hashim fitting that bill. Not to mention old Hashim really needs to work on his shouldered arms play as its seen him look silly a few times in the past 12 months.

    A.B on the other hand fits the bill perfectly , Tenacious, audacious and prepared to do things outside of the square. I know If I was playing for south Africa who I would like to play under.

    Lastly A.B please hand the gloves over to someone else mate. Its killing me not being able to watch you field in the slips. From what I have seen of you in the slips only Mark Waugh is in the same class. Get into 1st slip save your legs for batting and give all us cricket lovers the entertainment only you can provide.

    As an Ausise fan , I'll be happy for you to give Hashim a go when you play Australia.

  • anver777 on May 19, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    If Amla is ready, why not ??? I'm sure he will do a good job !!!!

  • martinmoha on May 19, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    I Think there is no doubt about Hashim"s Capabilities he is one of the Most important player for south Africa in all format at present and a real back bone of south african batting line up but making him Captain means putting pressure on him which can be disadvatagious for SA.

  • akashhaque on May 19, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    I strongly agree with Ronaldus, Amla should be choosen as captan and AB his deputy. Otherwise Del Stayn should also be given a chance as deputy of Amla, cas a bowler can understand better about field placing and rotating bowler option.FAF and JP is not yet tested everywhere and too early for them to takeover as captain.

  • Arif_Khan_Bangladeshi on May 19, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Great news. AB should be made the captain of ODI and T20 and Amla should get the test captaincy role. Lastly, folks should not have any doubt about the ability of this SA side, especially in the test format. They have many players, who are at the peak of their career and with the number of quality players in side, future looks good. They need a strong leadership on and off the field to create an identity for the team. Same thing, Darren Lehman was able to do with the Aussie side. Good luck

  • Ronaldus on May 19, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Well, he's answered the question; he's available ! Hashim reminds me of Ali Bacher. Imagine beating the Aussies 4-0 again with a real strategist and leader of men who also knows a thing or two about batting at the helm. And this will free AB to play his natural game and be recognized throughout the world as the no. 1 batsman !!

  • Ronaldus on May 19, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Well, he's answered the question; he's available ! Hashim reminds me of Ali Bacher. Imagine beating the Aussies 4-0 again with a real strategist and leader of men who also knows a thing or two about batting at the helm. And this will free AB to play his natural game and be recognized throughout the world as the no. 1 batsman !!

  • Arif_Khan_Bangladeshi on May 19, 2014, 8:43 GMT

    Great news. AB should be made the captain of ODI and T20 and Amla should get the test captaincy role. Lastly, folks should not have any doubt about the ability of this SA side, especially in the test format. They have many players, who are at the peak of their career and with the number of quality players in side, future looks good. They need a strong leadership on and off the field to create an identity for the team. Same thing, Darren Lehman was able to do with the Aussie side. Good luck

  • akashhaque on May 19, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    I strongly agree with Ronaldus, Amla should be choosen as captan and AB his deputy. Otherwise Del Stayn should also be given a chance as deputy of Amla, cas a bowler can understand better about field placing and rotating bowler option.FAF and JP is not yet tested everywhere and too early for them to takeover as captain.

  • martinmoha on May 19, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    I Think there is no doubt about Hashim"s Capabilities he is one of the Most important player for south Africa in all format at present and a real back bone of south african batting line up but making him Captain means putting pressure on him which can be disadvatagious for SA.

  • anver777 on May 19, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    If Amla is ready, why not ??? I'm sure he will do a good job !!!!

  • SpadeaSpade on May 19, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    From the sideline Hashim is a very fine batsmen, But does he look like a South African Captain, I would think not. South Africa have a tenacious in your face way of playing cricket and I do not see Hashim fitting that bill. Not to mention old Hashim really needs to work on his shouldered arms play as its seen him look silly a few times in the past 12 months.

    A.B on the other hand fits the bill perfectly , Tenacious, audacious and prepared to do things outside of the square. I know If I was playing for south Africa who I would like to play under.

    Lastly A.B please hand the gloves over to someone else mate. Its killing me not being able to watch you field in the slips. From what I have seen of you in the slips only Mark Waugh is in the same class. Get into 1st slip save your legs for batting and give all us cricket lovers the entertainment only you can provide.

    As an Ausise fan , I'll be happy for you to give Hashim a go when you play Australia.

  • EARTHQUAKE_JATT on May 19, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    AB plays better under pressure hence i think he, like Clarke before him, will play better with the captaincy commitment

  • fkhawaja on May 19, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    I think SA will do good with AB as captain of the shorter formats and HA as test captain. it would be ideal .

  • aeroboy.ae on May 19, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    i think Amla should be well considered as the SA's next test captain.

  • asiacricket1234 on May 19, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    I really like Amla. He is a great batsman and a wonderful person but I don't think he has the leadership quality. When he did lead SA he looked clueless. He is not a captaincy material on the other hand AB is a really smart guy and seemed confident as a leader. AB should lead SA in all format of the game