Hashim Amla – as good as gold

Published Jul 23, 2012 07:11pm

He is made in the classical mode and well in line to lead his country whenever the mantle shifts. -Photo by AFP

Reaching a landmark is a special thing. And watching one being achieved in front of your own eyes is an experience in itself. At The Oval on the third day of the first Test of the series, the South African captain Graeme Smith was one who scored a hundred (131) and that too playing in his 100th Test and in the process adding a record 259 for the second wicket against England with Hashim Amla.

Unbeaten at 183 on Saturday, Amla too had reached the landmark of being the first South African to make a triple century in Tests, surpassing his team-mate A.B. de Villiers’ 278 not out in the process which was the highest by a South African, scored against Pakistan in 2011 in the Abu Dhabi Test.

Smith, with his feat, joined those six batsmen before him who achieved that distinction of making a century in their 100th Test. The first being the former England captain Colin Cowdrey at Edgbaston in 1968 against Australia.

The list also includes two Pakistanis, Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq who both achieved it against India — at Lahore in 1989 and in Bangalore in 2005 — respectively. Both were in their own class.

I am lucky to have watched live four of those centuries in 100th Test matches, that of Miandad, Inzamam, Alec Stewart and now Smith’s.

And now it is Amla who has re-written the record books with a mammoth score that was not only brilliant in its accumulation but also a very disciplined one in nature.

Smith’s innings, though robust in character, was in a way ungainly compared to the brilliant effort of his partner Hashim Amla, the first player of Indian descent to play for South Africa in Tests.

Before 1991 it was unthinkable to have seen a non-white player playing for South Africa at any sports. Their policy of ‘apartheid’ did not allow them to include any other player than a white man, a policy run by their National Party which eventually resulted in the country losing its status and thus were thrown out of the ICC in 1970, before being brought back into the fold when Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island prison after 27 years and apartheid had to be abolished.

That opened the door for sportsmen of South Africa to be a part of the outfit. Had it not happened, we may not have seen the likes of Makhaya Ntini, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Paul Adams and now players like J.P. Duminy and Vernon Philander.

Amongst them, white or non-white, Amla holds a special place being the golden boy of batting for his country. His grandparents had come to South Africa from Surat in the Indian state of Gujrat as indentured workers to settle down in Durban in Natal in the KwaZulu land which, outside India, the area holds the biggest number of people of Indian origin.

Hooked on the game from schooldays, both Amla and his elder brother Ahmed Amla made their debut in first-class cricket for Natal.

Although his brother did not make it to the top, Hashim did.

From disappointment to despair at early stages during his career, he did settle down first as under-19 World Cup captain and then as a senior team player. His Test debut was insignificant against India at Kolkata in 2004-05 but he soon found form and poised to make four hundreds in eight innings in 2004-05 domestic season.

Amla’s second Test series against New Zealand really launched him among the emerging players on the circuit. And not much later he churned up 307 runs in three Tests against India with 159 as his best at Chennai.

Hylton Ackerman, a Western Province and South African international who was a coach alongside me in Holland in the 1970s, had spotted Amla as a talent who he thought could go miles.

Australian Test batsman Dean Jones still regrets calling him a terrorist during his commentary against Sri Lanka for Ten Sports. Being bearded and a devout Muslim, Amla did not react. The TV channel took Jones off from the commentary team for his derogatory remark but Amla did not retaliate. Jones later apologised to him for his slip of tongue.

Amla in life is as straight as his bat which, when he is on song, moves like a rapier with strokes flowing with clinical precision from it as he plays back to force the ball on both sides of the wicket or when lunging forward to drive imperiously through covers and through mid-wicket and mid-on.

He is made in the classical mode and well in line to lead his country whenever the mantle shifts. Watching him bat is an experience in itself.

In 2008 his double century at Lord’s was a sight to watch and with two Tests still to go in this series, he may turn out to be the star attraction of the visitors once again.

A standing ovation by the packed capacity crowd at The Oval and his own dignified way of acknowledging the applause with a raised bat spoke a thousand words. And the innings triumph that finally came on the fifth day for his team was a befitting present for his magnificent effort with the bat.


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Comments (25) (Closed)


nasim khan
Jul 25, 2012 09:17am
very good said, he is not example for all the cricketers particularly pakistani batsmen, but general he is an example to all the people in every way of life, i wish to be like him, what appears, he seems to be very honest, calm and non-confrontational type of person. We all pray to Allah that he showers all the happiness upon him his family and on all of us. Ameen
Gulap
Jul 24, 2012 07:34am
Not surprised when Dean Jones called him a terrorist on Ten Sports - most of Ten Sports commentators are like that - just look at Sanjay Manjrekar - In fact I was surprised when Ten Sports took him off the commentary team.
Truth Hurts
Jul 24, 2012 07:09am
Kissing the ground as you might have thought is called Sajda-e-Shukar (Bow of thanks) to Allah for the good news etc. To my best knowledge it is an established sunnah/practise of the Prophet & Messanger of Allah, Muhammad (sal lal la ho wa alihay wasalam) to offer Sajda-e-shukar on hearing a glad tiding. Allah knows the Best I don’t know what does acting arrogantly means and I shall prefer not to discuss on who has been doing this act earlier and that why Hashim did not do it. Just clarifying the point.....
Umair Khalid
Jul 24, 2012 03:48pm
A good person, good Muslim and a wonderful cricketer! Good to see him perform so well.
Karachi Wala
Jul 25, 2012 02:19pm
Showkat, agreed with most of your analysis. However, I disagree with your 50 theory. If a Pakistan batsman scores 30, he feels like on top of the world because the other top order would get out on, 0,5, 0, 7 ect.... Look at the two series agaist Englan and Sri Lanka in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Pakistan won both of the series because Saeed and Rehman who bowled beautifully on almost dead wickets and pathetic batting by both opponents. It was hard for our batsmen to score even 150 runs collectively.
farooq
Jul 27, 2012 10:25am
I agree entirely what you said about sajde-shukur.But you do not have to do it infront of 30,000 people.You go home -perform wudhu and thank almighty with 2 rakaats of nauful prayer- that is your sjade-shukur.
waqas
Aug 03, 2012 06:40pm
While seeing his innings of 300 he remind me Muhammad Yousaf he played like Muhammad Yousaf...... AS a nation WE HAD VERY BAD FATE because we have wasted alot of talented players
Fen
Jul 26, 2012 06:40pm
Didn't knew Mohammad Yousuf with 7500 runs in 90 Test matches with 52.30 Test Average was behind Hashim Amla's 4700 runs in 60 Test matches at 50.26 Test average? Not sure any one can say Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan was behind any body in Test match terms.
Showkat
Jul 24, 2012 09:34am
Some things Pakistan batsmen and cricketers can learn from Amla which can make it easy for them on international stage-Calm, Poise, Hunger for runs, respect of your Peers, communication. What a delight to watch him. No controversy just doing your job to the best of your ability no matter what job it is. Watching him make 300 kept reminding me which Pakistani current batsman can score like this. The answer each time was "nobody". A Pakistani batsman will score 50, he will do Shagda on Ground, be content with it and feels he has secured his position for next game and will get out in 60's. In contrast, Hashim every 100 you could feel he would probably state Al Hamdulillah silently and continue the March of runs for his country. I hope Pakistani batsmen learn something by watching him especially one thing which is never be content with the number of runs one score.
r.s.soni
Jul 24, 2012 09:27am
does amla observe fast during holy ramzan month?
Asif
Jul 24, 2012 01:06pm
Our cricketers should concentrate on playing the darn game rather than making a sanctimonious drama on the field everytime they hit a milestone.
ermughan
Jul 24, 2012 04:02am
No doubt about it. One of the finest players South Africa has produced and who has a huge following even in Pakistan. One of the calmest players of the cricket ball. With bat speeds exceeding "Mach 1" :)
Syed
Jul 24, 2012 05:51am
He remindes me saeed anwar, cool, calm, collected, I wonder what happened to his brother, they both started togather a decade ago.
Thabo Makeleni
Jul 24, 2012 05:51am
A devout muslim yet no kissing of the ground and acting "arrogantly" like some modern-day players who hide behind religion. Well done Hashim.
Azhar Chaudhry
Jul 24, 2012 07:07am
Hashim Amla is a pure classic batsman. Keep his nerves under control and avoid very playing the balls outside the stump.
Noman
Jul 24, 2012 06:47am
Congratulation and best wishes to Amla for his superb performance! What Borjn Borg to tennis, Amla is for cricket
S. Subrahmanyam
Jul 24, 2012 06:59am
Hashim Amla is potentially the best test player in the world of the coming era. With Tendulkar fading and none of the modern star cricketers, except a few English and South African, learning the classical batting technique, Hashim Amla is a delight to watch. His defensive strokes and the cover and onside drives are some of the best in the game.
saythetruth
Jul 24, 2012 08:04am
He is a true role model for Young Muslims.
Thabo Makeleni
Jul 24, 2012 08:10am
When you perform this act towards Allah than it means that you recognise Him and adhere to all His commands. How many players who "performed" this act of kissing the ground have also been found guilty of corruption. Is this not being hypocritical ? Or is it okay to kiss the ground in respect to Him whilst also ignoring His commands ie committing fraud & corruption. Amla has the perfect balance and his relationship with his Lord is between them. I am just asking !
Nomi
Jul 24, 2012 08:44am
Adding to Truth Hurts' comment, those who perform the act do not kiss the ground (as if the ground had something to do with their achievement!). No, they touch their foreheads to the ground in acknowledgement of the blessing bestowed by the Almighty. It is quite the opposite of arrogance, Mr. Makeleni.
saythetruth
Jul 24, 2012 08:53am
There is nothing wrong with showing positive emotions.
Mir Dost Brohi
Jul 25, 2012 11:42am
I do agree with your analysis. I watched Amla,s innings, he played as a professional athlete, calm, cool, and more than that never showed his proud on rivals upon reaching a milestone. Reaching a 50 and giving "Sajda" I failed to understand a mindset of Pakistani batsman.
Keen Observer
Jul 24, 2012 11:04pm
What a knock. He is a great player. even better human being from what I read about him. Keep it up lad.
Moosa Pervez
Jul 25, 2012 04:46pm
I think Mohammad Yousuf was very close to Hashim;s game but that brilliance was killed by Waqar Younis during his controversial coaching days.
Asif
Jul 31, 2012 04:45pm
What is his being a Muslim got anything to do with anything? He is a good batsman, and thats all you can possibly know about him.