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Amla likely to take Test reins

Firdose Moonda

June 2, 2014

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Hashim Amla's scored his 21st century in Tests, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 4th day, February 23, 2014
Hashim Amla © Getty Images
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Hashim Amla is expected to be announced as South Africa's next Test captain when the new leader is unveiled following a CSA board meeting tomorrow. Amla, who made a trip back home from his stint with Surrey for the CSA awards on Wednesday, made himself available for the job last month and is considered the frontrunner for the role, ahead of AB de Villiers.

In addition to announcing the new Test captain on Tuesday, South Africa will also name their ODI and Test squads for next month's tour of Sri Lanka. Kallis, who still aims to play in the 2015 World Cup, should be part of the fifty-over outfit, and there are some new faces expected among the Test players. A rookie spinner, in either Simon Harmer or Dane Piedt, is likely to travel to Sri Lanka and a specialist batsman could also be part of the touring party. Stiaan van Zyl, Quinton de Kock and Justin Ontong are among the candidates under consideration.

Amla's surprise interest in the job was made public after CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat urged the national selectors not to have an "automatic choice" for Graeme Smith's successor and to consider all options. By then, de Villiers had already declared himself "ready" for the role and was widely thought to be competing with Faf du Plessis, who is now effectively out of contention.

Du Plessis leads the Twenty20 side and, although his Test-match temperament has been impressive, he is a relative newcomer to the longest format. The experience of de Villiers and Amla, who have both been international cricketers for 10 years and have played 168 Tests between them, made them more viable options. Amla is expected to get the nod over de Villiers, in part because South Africa want to "maintain the stability of the side by retaining de Villiers as wicket-keeper and not forcing him to give up the gloves to captain," according to an insider, and despite Amla's initial reluctance to captain.

But last month Amla u-turned on that and explained he saw a gap, caused by the retirements of Smith and Jacques Kallis, which he could fill. "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," he said in a radio interview.

It is believed Amla was convinced to make himself available by administrators who hope to tick two boxes by appointing him. It will also ease the political pressure on CSA to accelerate the rate of transformation.

Although there are no official quotas placed on national teams, there is an expectancy from government that sports federations will show a commitment to change. Before South Africa's general elections last month, sports minister Fikile Mbalula threatened to impose a 60% player of colour quota on all teams and those who failed to meet it could risk not receiving government funding and being banned from competing internationally. Mbalula, who remains in the post after the new cabinet was announced, retracted that demand but has met with officials across various sporting codes, including cricket and rugby, to reach common ground on their plans to transform.

But sources have cautioned against seeing Amla's likely appointment as solely based on transformation goals. "He is highly respected in the team so I don't think there is any aspect of colour that comes into it," one insider said. "And even if it is mentioned, Hashim has had to deal with this type of thing before. If he is appointed, it is above and beyond colour and he will know that."

Rushdie Magiet, a former convener of selectors, agreed and told ESPNcricinfo, he thinks Amla has the ability to "bring the team together" as they head through a transition phase.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by   on (June 3, 2014, 10:11 GMT)

Metadata, that would be a terrible decision. With all due respect, De Kock is a precocious "child star" and has plenty of growing up to do. He is also not a thinking cricketer and the only thing he has in common with Graeme Smith is the school they both went to, although De Kock got no further than Grade 10.

I'd pick Faf. I don't think AB or Amla have the mongrel to be a good captain

Posted by metadata on (June 2, 2014, 18:10 GMT) So happy that the mighty hash has thrown his hat in the ring. I think he has the intellect to be the best captain we can put out there.

Posted by Felisafricanus on (June 3, 2014, 9:36 GMT)

I'm not that keen on including De Kock in the playing eleven. He looked out of sorts last year in the ODI series Proteas played in Sri Lanka and his first class season (Sunfoil series) also did not go well. He also did not perform in IPL the few games he played in the Indian leg this year. He's great in short formats though, especially on home ground. AB's average since taking the gloves is higher than his all time ave. Seems its doing his batting well to keep and I'll keep him as WK. Amla to captain test side. Please include both Piedt and Tahir in playing 11. And consider Miller too, not only Van Zyl, De Kock and Ontong. Miller played 3 Sunfoil games (5 innings) and scored 2 x 50's and 2 x 100's. Excellent figures in 4 day format.

Posted by Protears on (June 3, 2014, 9:28 GMT)

I get annoyed reading about how De Kock must bat at 7 and take the gloves with absolutely no consideration on the impact of such decision. Firstly Quinton De Kock barely has FC experience. Secondly AB de Villiers batting at 5 and Keeping has not only improved his batting but also allows us to play a bowler or all rounder, since bowlers win games you cannot play with 4 frontline bowlers only and JP Duminy is not classified as a bowler anymore than Jonathan Trott or Michael Hussey were.

As for the rest of the squad, why is Stiaan van Zyl even considered in context to Ontong?, Ontong has no future in the team, sick of CSA picking players about over the hill when we have perfectly good talent coming up, really and honestly tired of it even more so when the aging player is just a quota player.

The ideal team for the first test on balance should be: Peterson/Van Zyll, Elgar, Du Plessis, Amla, De Villiers, Duminy, Philander, Piedt, Steyn, Morkel/Abbott, Tahir

Posted by   on (June 3, 2014, 9:16 GMT)

I think Amla as captain is a good choice - he's got the temperament for it, and I'm sure his batting won't suffer as it happens in many cases. I can not imagine the selectors NOT including de Kock as opening Test batsman, he has done well as opener in the ODI's - whether he frees de Villiers of the gloves is another matter, but it is good that the option exists.

South Africa has had some time off, and I sincerely hope that the bowling unit has had time to reflect on their tired strategy of bowling short/ back-of-a-length. Morkel has proved that he can work top class batsmen over without actually taking their wicket, and that should be enough to warrant an overhaul of the pace bowling tactics. A batsman's ability might let him down when playing at a short ball, but if the bouncer was used as a surprise delivery, coupled with good line and length outside off stump, it would be far more successful.

Dale Steyn can not be expected to break the back of the opposition in every match!

Posted by lukiboy on (June 3, 2014, 7:51 GMT)

My SA squad for SL: Elgar, A Petersen, Van Zyl, Amla (c), Du Plessis, De Villiers(wk), Duminy, De Kock (R/wk), Philander, Steyn, M Morkel, Parnell, Tahir, Peidt. 8 batsmen: including 2 WK and a spinning all-rounder. 6 bowlers 4 fast, 2 spinners.

Posted by gibbs.175 on (June 3, 2014, 4:11 GMT)

This will not be a positive decision because only FAF or AB can handle the team well . and I dnt want to see M.Morkell in the squad for S.Lanka

Posted by Shongololo on (June 3, 2014, 4:01 GMT)

"...maintain the stability of the side by retaining de Villiers as wicket-keeper and not forcing him to give up the gloves to captain," according to an insider..." And that, in one quote, sums up the stifling, conservative thinking in South African cricket. I'm happy with Hash as captain, but believe AB should focus on his batting and again be a real asset in the field, while de Kock should get the gloves and number 7. If he's good enough, he's old enough. And he's certainly good enough, way better than Boucher was when he was introduced as a youngster.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (June 2, 2014, 22:57 GMT)

Amla is one of the best batsman in the world and a person too. i just hate to see him made captain for quota sake! last thing anyone want is for him to lose his form due to tension in the team. surly AB would feel hard done by if he is cast aside for quota sake?? Amla pls say NO and continue piling on the runs...

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 20:24 GMT)

They should pick FAF. He has experience as captain from t20 side and doesn't have the gloves (like AB). Amla once captained a t20 game against Aus and wasn't that a pretty little mess, we had about 5 captains on the field. FAF is also best at thinking cricket end making plans. AB is a good player, but not a good captain

Posted by   on (June 2, 2014, 18:58 GMT)

Give quinny the captaincy he will be new greame smith of south africa.

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