South Africa news May 19, 2014

Amla willing to take up Test captaincy


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

  • Sundhar 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.

  • greig 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.

  • Zahid on May 20, 2014, 10:52 GMT

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

  • John 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.

  • Sage 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 are not going to bring unity among the team...I hope it will be AB...

  • adeel 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.

  • R 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.

  • David on May 20, 2014, 3:05 GMT

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

  • Android 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...