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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rob on January 31, 2013, 1:12 GMT

    What an honourable, selfless decision to make. Now can the rightful captian please be restored - Johan Botha. If not, then Smith with Du Plessis as vice captian.

  • mahjut on January 30, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    SurlyC...(2nd attempt at this one) It may be that ABs critics were too harsh but the fact that Hash has not been equally criticised may be because most folk did not see any correlation between the two at all, understanding instinctively a difference between a definitive change of mind and a "fickle" one, which suggests regularity (or indecision) - even if/when that change was appointed rather than requested. A much better comparison, if you wanted (which had a similar muted/measured response from cricinfo - ie. a fairly understanding article - and online cricket critics alike), might be ABs early 2009 statement of intent: that he did not want to keep for the Proteas, but would rather focus on his batting. His wish was granted, despite some rather loud calls for Boucher (who got another 3 years) to be relieved of the gloves to allow for a longer line-up that would've included Prince and JP (kinda like now!)..and AB did already *occasionally* don the gloves for Bouch in ODIs.

  • Mick on January 30, 2013, 21:10 GMT

    Happy for people to praise Amla for not wanting the responsibility (a la Tendulkar, Lara). But I think the same grace should be extended to players like Dhoni, Ponting etc who take on the job even when it's extremely difficult and attracts so much criticism.

  • jackson on January 30, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    well this guy seems to be a very pious individual so honesty comes easily to him. south africa and the whole cricketing world want to see amla churning out hundreds after hundreds and help his country win rather than a losing captain getting whitewash after whitewash like our own b.c. lara. it takes a great person to refuse captaincy. every team have a set of people who think they are great leaders of men so they should learn from this man that what he is refusing they are killing for it. so people like k.p. kim hughes, lara, mc callum, and all others should take a bow.

  • mahjut on January 30, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Botha, like Amla, should now be forgotten!! Botha may have been the best SA ODI captain but calls for him can be nothing more than tongue-in-cheek, that ship's sailed! AB is captain - there's no issue there - CSA are now looking for a VC willing to step up when AB isn't available ... and Faf seems a better choice than most of the others, being a best friend of the captain, who in turn - if inside info is to be believed - has the support of other major players like Kallis and Smith. Not to mention he's a pretty good cricketer and from what i've seen of him handles pressure better than some of the others (but team SA is a beast that seems to negate the individual when it comes to big tourny's - not big games, just big tourny games). Otherwise, just return the job to Smith - at least it will justify still selecting him for ODIs ;)

  • Muhammad on January 30, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    Well that is some bizarre decision, if he was not comfortable being leading the side, he should have said it on the first go when he was appointed as Vice Captain. Now suddenly there is a vacant spot and no one to go to if AB gets away. No doubt he is among the best batsmen at the moment in the cricketing world but captaincy is not suited to him. IMO SA has no problem of captains in Tests, Smith can carry on for about 4/5 more years and AB can be his deputy. The problem SA Test team now facing is that of finding a specialist wicket keeper or need to train De Cock asap. For ODI side, AB is the best choice as Captain and Faf as Vice Captain. De Cock can permanently assume the role of WK and train hard to get into Test side. For T20, if AB is captain, Faf can be VC or Faf can captain the T20 side and his deputy to be searched. De Cock or any other WK must be found quickly to balance all three sides. Best of luck to South Africa from a huge fan of yours from Pakistan.............:)

  • Tim on January 30, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    SA cricket adminstrators should do the right thing: Cut themselves a big slice of humble pie...., jump on an to South Australia....ask Johan Botha to come back! Hashim should not have accepted the vice captaincy role in the first place. I don't think he's the sort of person to be strong - armed into something, just don't think he thought through all the implications at the time.

  • Mahesh on January 30, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    The Smiling Assasin needs to focus on batting thats why he dont want to do vice captaincy .

  • haris on January 30, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    A captain is known for his skills in handling the team, motivating them and having other pertinent factors instilled in him. SA need to find that man who has the tendency to take the pressure of being a captain and performing for his team. Apart from this, players have their own stance on taking up a particular role and if they don't want to in any case can be acceptable on certain circumstances but playing for one's team and the honor to lead a side remains a high multi tasking responsibility which can be best known by the player himself or the management related to it.

  • Hanz on January 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Honest, very honest. Not greedy for captaincy. A true example of a legend!