South Africa news January 29, 2013

Amla goes cold on vice-captaincy

Hashim Amla is likely to step down as South Africa's limited-overs vice-captain after declining a request to lead the side in the recent ODI series against New Zealand.

Regular captain AB de Villiers was suspended for two matches for a slow over rate and Amla was asked to take over as is commonplace with the deputy. But Amla requested to be left to "concentrate on his batting" according to convener of selectors Andrew Hudson and Faf du Plessis led the side instead. Amla has now revealed he may give up the role altogether.

"It's something I am considering - stepping down," Amla said. "There is no point in me being vice-captain if I'm not going to captain when the captain isn't around. We will make that decision soon."

Hudson agreed that having a vice-captain who is not willing to step up is a concern to the administrators and that Amla's position will be considered when the national contracts are decided on next month. "We did ask Hashim to captain in the one-day series against New Zealand and he declined," he told ESPNcricinfo. "He said he wanted to concentrate on his batting. We will take this into account going forward.

"He may end up relinquishing the role. Having a vice-captain who is not available when he needs to captain defeats the objective. Hashim is happy to play a supporting role but perhaps not in an official capacity. We will consider this when the contracts come up for renewal. We have no doubt he will continue to contribute but maybe not as vice-captain."

Amla was appointed to the position in July 2011 when the new management structure under Gary Kirsten took over. Although it was known at the time that Amla was a reluctant leader, he accepted the vice-captaincy of both the ODI and T20 squad. He had only played two T20s for South Africa at that point.

He was thrown in at the deep end when he had to captain in what would have been de Villiers' first series in charge against Australia. De Villiers' sustained an injury at the Champions League T20 which preceded the South African summer and did not recover in time.

The impact it had on Amla's own performances was obvious. He made two scores of 4 in the T20s and 24, 0 and 52 in the three ODIs. After the five matches, Amla confessed he had not enjoyed the experience and was more than happy to hand the armband back to de Villiers for the Sri Lanka series later in the season.

Despite an unhappy time as leader, Amla agreed to take an experimental squad to an unofficial T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe. South Africa lost one group stage match to each of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and then lost to the hosts in the final. That was Amla's last dalliance with captaincy.

Du Plessis has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Amla as de Villiers' deputy. He has already captained South Africa in a T20 series against New Zealand and the two ODIs in which de Villiers was banned. He also led South Africa A through the winter of 2012 against Sri Lanka A.

He may even find himself made permanent captain in any of the formats after Hudson hinted that the whole system could be overhauled. "We need to look at each format having an established captain and vice-captain," he said.

De Villiers has admitted to being overburdened by captaining, wicketkeeping and playing a key role with the bat. Although he is continually trying to establish his own style of leadership, his struggles to adjust could prompt the selection panel to look elsewhere as South Africa build for the Champions Trophy and 2015 World Cup.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent