South Africa news May 20, 2014

Amla ready to plug leadership gap


The retirements of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis and the subsequent loss of experience from the South African squad is the primary reason behind Hashim Amla making himself available for the job of Test captain. Amla informed South Africa's selection panel he could be considered alongside AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy to replace Smith as leader for Tests and is expected to be seriously considered for the role.

"A lot has changed over the last few months," Amla said in an interview with South Africa's Radio 2000. "Graeme has retired, Jacques has retired. I have always stayed away from taking the leadership role but now that we have lost two core members I think it is a good time for me, if appointed, to add value to the team."

Amla's interest in the job comes as a surprise because he has been reluctant to captain in the past. He asked to be relieved of the duty when he was put in charge of the Dolphins franchise after one season, 2004-05, to concentrate on his batting and also relinquished the vice-captaincy of the limited-overs sides last February.

Now in his 10th year as an international cricketer, Amla feels he has enough experience to take on a little extra in all respects. Like Smith, who called time on his 11-year career partly because of the needs of his young family, Amla also has young children but said he would be happy dividing his time for now.

"Though cricket does form a deep part of a person's life, everything else carries on," he said. "The children are here and running around - being a father is something you can't really explain but it has helped develop some other skills that could be used on a cricket field. I am really grateful the family has been supportive as it is quite challenging and we travel a lot."

While Amla admitted he was "not too sure" what the impact of captaining would be on his batting, he maintained scoring runs will remain a key focus. "I have always tried to establish myself as a batsman first. Hopefully I can try and manage both," Amla said. "I am confident I can try and balance the two because on the field, I have always felt my mind is active and I try and contribute to ideas."

Amla's more vocal approach, particularly behind the scenes, was the first clue he would like to be more involved in the think tank. He explained he will continue to form part of that group irrespective of who is chosen as Test captain, because he, de Villiers, who has also expressed his readiness to take on the role, du Plessis and Duminy share an understanding. "Whoever is captain, I don't think it will change my approach. We have a great bunch of senior guys who rely on and feed off each other," he said.

"The speculation over who will be the next captain doesn't affect our relationship. We have been playing for quite a long time and we have a good relationship. It's not about who is captain or who is not captain; it's about what's good for the team. If the powers that be deem someone else to be in a better position to captain, then brilliant."

Amla admitted South Africa had been through a "challenging season" and hinted that he expects it to remain tough. Following their first series defeat in five years, to Australia at home in March, and the annual update of the ICC's rankings, South Africa fell a fraction of a point below Australia and the new captain's most pressing task would be close that gap.

"The top three or four teams are pretty evenly matched," he said. "We also had a few challenges with Graeme and Jacques retiring but now, as a team we have to find a way of playing without those two colossal figures."

In many ways, Amla voicing interest in the captaincy is the start of that process and is thought to have sparked debate among the selection panel. The South African selectors will continue debating who they would like to recommend as the next captain over the next two weeks. Once they have made their choice, they will refer it to the CSA board who will either ratify or reject it. An announcement on who the successful candidate will be is expected in early June.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tshego on May 21, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    Faf du Plessis is the best choice for captaincy across all formats. AB must bat at #4 in tests and #3 in ODIs and be Faf's assistant in all formats. de Kock must keep wicket in all formats as well. Keep Alviro for tests, his experience and presence is needed, especially to the new captain in the outfield.

  • ZCF on May 21, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    @KK053 Excellent! I agree with you 100%. Amla for Test&ODI captaincy, then AB or Syeyn for T20s. I'm happy that silly overbearing group is slowly being broken up. That was the reason for Amla's prefering to be behind the scenes. Amla for captain. On merit at that!

  • Dummy4 on May 21, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    well CSA is facing a tough and tricky choice. Democracy should be kept shelved and one of the two top contenders, FAF or AB should be seriously considered. Although not very impressive thus far AB could adapt to the captaincy role while my choice will be FAF. CSA should remember that a captain could even be bought from outside the availables, may not be the best of player but is the uniting person just as the case of GS, who was short at being the best of batsman but was good as a leader, something they were paid off in the last years of Smith's reign with retention of No.1 test team status for most of the occasions.

  • Kavir on May 21, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    Reading between the lines, Amla is saying that now that Smith and Kallis are gone he would be far more comfortable to lead the team. Its been well documented that these 2, together with AB and Boucher held powerful reigns within the team in the past, a power pack that Amla did not fit into.

    Amla is the right choice and will bring in some non-bullish pure cricket thinking into our game. He should captain both tests and ODI's with either AB or Steyn takiing the T20 captaincy. Faf does not belong in the ODI and T20 teams and therefore should not be considered for captaincy. His test place will be up for dispute within 24 months. AB needs to keep wicket since QdK is not up to scratch yet and combined with his dodgy captaincy to date AB should not be considered - although a far superior batsmen he is no Dhoni.

  • greig on May 21, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    I have a horrible feeling where this is going. CSA will be looking to appoint a different captain for every format. So we will have Hash Cpt the Test Team, AB doing ODIs and Faff doing T20.

    We dont need 3 different captains. 1 is enough. Just make it AB as captain across all formats, with Hash as his VC for Tests.

  • Mark on May 21, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    It is a concern that out of the four, not one is the obvious choice. Not one of them should be captain and it is more of a compromise choice because we need one. Amla is a brilliant player and a great mentor for the young guys, but I do not see strong leadership qualities. His tactical prowess is also largely unknown. Duminy should not be in the pot either. He is a good lower middle order batsman and a decent slow bowler, but also not captain material. Faf to be is the best choice for a captain, he is aggressive and has a good tactical mind....but he is not always a first choice for the team.Which leaves AB....his ODI captaincy has not impressed, but he is a leader and his place is cemented in the team. He probably will be the choice....

  • George on May 21, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    Faf is not sure of his place; AB has too much on his plate if he continues to keep wicket, so Amla is a shoo-in. Also, Amla has clearly been persuaded to change his mind by the selectors, which rather suggests the job is his. His appointment would also be more demographically acceptable to SA authorities.

  • Saurab on May 21, 2014, 1:15 GMT

    Seriously if SA choose Amla as their next captain, i'll just think they have scrambled brains. I love the bloke and his batting. Don't get me wrong here. But as a captain, you first need to to be a leader, and an astute tactician against quality opposition. Hash is a world class player and has delivered almost on every occasion SA have needed him to. He never throws his wicket away like AB does. You have to earn his wicket with a quality ball and he has played some match winnings innings ex: 300 against a highly over rated england team which is one of my all time favs but seriously, he looked rusty against the Australians, and its better for him and for the team if he just focuses on his batting rather than captaincy. Not all great players can be a great captain and the greatest example is Sachin Tendulkar :) Cheers hash. Smash those poms.

  • Harjinder on May 20, 2014, 22:32 GMT

    Amla is a good player in the side but as a captain he is not as aggressive as the captain suppose to be ...FAF is the best option or.AB is a good choice .......good luck

  • Android on May 20, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Amla not captaincy material. AB the right and obvious choice. Faf not really certain of his place to be honest

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