South Africa news

Amla goes cold on vice-captaincy

Firdose Moonda

January 29, 2013

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Hashim Amla scored his 19th Test hundred, South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 1st day, January 11, 2013
Hashim Amla's form slumped during his last stint as captain © Getty Images

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

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Posted by Robster1 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Mitcher 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.

Posted by stonebull 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.

Posted by 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 ;)

Posted by ShanO111 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.............:)

Posted by DeckChairand6pack 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.

Posted by Mesh_ming on (January 30, 2013, 10:49 GMT)

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

Posted by hst84 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.

Posted by CricPhD on (January 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT)

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

Posted by SAFan11 on (January 30, 2013, 9:39 GMT)

A good captain is not always the best player in a team. This is something that seems to be very easily forgotten by many national sides when they select a captain, Kevin Pieterson springs to mind. Naturally he has to be able to keep his place in the team but he also needs a whole different set of qualities. I haven't seen enough from AB to convince me of this and maybe it is time to start looking for his replacement. Perhaps Faf is the answer if he can hold down his place in the team. I agree with Clan_McLachlan Jahan Botha was a REAL captaincy prospect we have missed out on. I could see him taking us to a trophy. People forget Smith is still not that old and if he wants can play for another 6 or so years. Still I don't see him as the answer though as he just doesn't seem to have the same intuition some of the better captains have had in the shortened format. He is still a great leader though. Here is hoping Faf is the answer.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (January 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

I think this is the right decision, he's not comfortable as captain and his batting is too important to risk.

But I do find it interesting that there is no criticism here of him 'changing his mind', like there was of AB. I think the criticism of AB was unfair as he has always done what the team management have asked of him, whether taking up the gloves or the captaincy, when he could also have asked to just focus on his batting like Amla. Then when the team management changed his role, and he had to defend it in press conferences, journalists called him 'fickle' and said he was affecting the team. Wish he had got an understanding article like this.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (January 30, 2013, 7:51 GMT)

Good, the best batsman in the world can now concentrate on what he is in the team for. Thats batting !!!

All hail lord hashim amla and king kallis. All hail..

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (January 30, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

Johan Botha is our best limited overs captaincy option. But he saw the political writing on the wall and bailed.

Posted by shovwar on (January 30, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

As a die hard SA fan I dont think the ODI side has developed into something to win a tournament like Champions Trophy yet. They are still experimenting. The NZ series was an experiment. But I see good future. If they stuck to their regular ODI teamlike the last NZ series in NZ I dont think SA would have lost the series. Last year they whitewashed NZ in NZ. But I support Kirsten for what he is doing. SA does not need a champions trophy. They had it before (Dhaka 98). We need a WC. And Kirsten is the only person in SA history with the ability to bring it out of the Proteas. For now lets be patient and take defeat in ODIs for the glory in future. Lets enjoy our test squad which is the best in the world at the moment. And T20 cricket is a lottery i dont take it that seriously.

Posted by QingdaoXI on (January 30, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

Below are the likely captain and vice captain for all 3 formats for South Africa Tests: Captain: Smith Vice Captain: Devillers ODI: Captain Devillers Vice Captain: Faf Du Plessis T-20: Captain Du Plessis, Vice Captain: De Kock. For T-20 i took 20 year old kock as vice captain as Du Plessis will not be retiring soon and Kock will be understudy of Du Plessis may be still 2017.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (January 30, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

If the best batsmen in your side (Kallis is the best all-rounder) wants to concentrate on his batting and is producing consistent results with the bat then whats the point in trying to get him to do duties he isnt interested in? SAF will do well to invest in Faf as he has lot of things going for him. He is relatively young, assured of his place in the side and there seems to be a bit of a X-factor in him a la young Graeme Smith. Kirsten of all people in the world will know that he has a fantastic side on his hand which can be truly conquer world in all forms of the game. What it is lacking is a true leader who can install the fearlessness in them to avoid the dreaded 'Ç' word when the knock out games are played in big events like world cup. Faf seems to be the best candidate.

Posted by 3ddy on (January 30, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

its interesting how Faf has grown in last 2 months in SA dressing room

Posted by Sunman81 on (January 30, 2013, 5:14 GMT)

Wow...surprised by the rapid growth of Du plussis...But I think he deserves it... SA always have this knack of picking a good captain very early...

Posted by Jordanious77 on (January 30, 2013, 5:12 GMT)

It sounded like Amla never wanted to be captain but was happy to be someone who could give advice on the field without the pressure. And at the time SA were happy with that.

But right now they are looking for people to fill the captaincy role rather than a leadership one, which i would imagine was why Amla was appointed as vice captain before hand. Because of his leadership qualities and not his ability to captain a team.

Since SA are clearly looking for someone who can replace ABDV as captain when he's not there maybe Faf is a better vice captain option. Amla can still be in a supporting role, he just might not have as much influence on and off the field as maybe the team would require from him. But it's either 1 or the other

Posted by Andre117 on (January 30, 2013, 5:11 GMT)

I say make Faf the captain in all 3 forms. I believe he can handle being a captain and a batsman as well as Clarke and Ponting could.

Posted by   on (January 30, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

Very intelligent decision......learned from experience when "Hashim Amla's form slumped during his last stint as captain".

Posted by Baundele on (January 30, 2013, 4:42 GMT)

Amla is an introvert person. It is better to leave him concentrating on his own game than leading others.

Posted by i-s-r-a-r on (January 30, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

And also, i do not think the management should make faf the captain just yet. Champions trophy will start soon and devilliers should get that last chance to get hold of the team. Its too close to the champions trophy to change leadership responsibility now.

Posted by i-s-r-a-r on (January 30, 2013, 4:27 GMT)

Lol...this was bound to happen. Seems like abdv is getting negatively affected too by captaincy. I guess faf would be the next choice but thing is faf hasnt done anything special in either odis or t20s yet to be an automatic selection although selectors seem willing to give him chances after chances. And after faf i dont see anyone in the team who has leadership quality. If only botha was still there , as he would have been a safe choice given i would rate him a better bowler than either peterson or tahir and a very cunning and aggressive captain unlike smith. But funnily enough the selectors let him go just to favor imran tahir before even being sure about whether tahir can make any impact in international games.

Posted by C.A-SA1987 on (January 30, 2013, 4:07 GMT)


As someone who was not always Smith's biggest fan, I have a new-found appreciation for his 100 tests of captaincy.

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