Amla to lead Proteas

2014-06-04 00:00

HASHIM Amla was announced as South Africa’s fifth Test cricket captain since readmission in 1992 by Cricket South Africa in Johannesburg yesterday.

He follows in the footsteps of Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock and Graeme Smith, although Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher did duty as stand-in skippers during their careers.

Amla won a three-horse race which included current Protea ODI captain AB de Villiers and Protea T20 leader Faf du Plessis and is the first player of colour to captain the national side.

Amla recently indicated his willingness to lead the side and his appointment may come as a surprise to many cricket followers, considering his gentle manner and approach to the game.

He did take charge of the Dolphins when he played for the KZN franchise before joining the Cape Cobras last season but asked to be relieved of the responsibility to concentrate more on his game.

His subsequent record in Test cricket clearly indicates he has that department in order — currently 21 centuries and 27 fifties in 76 Tests at 51,35 — and if he displays the same dedication to his captaincy, the ICC mace for the number one Test playing country should soon be wrested back from the Aussies.

AB de Villiers is Amla’s vice-captain while retaining the captaincy of the One-Day squad. He was seen as Smith’s obvious successor but adding the leading of the team to his role of gloveman and outstanding batsman would have been a heavy burden.

Du Plessis, with only 14 Tests to his credit, perhaps needs more experience and is now free to focus on his batting at this level.

CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat made the announcement, saying, “It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Hashim on his appointment. This after a unanimous decision was taken by the Board of Directors to accept the recommendation put through by the national selectors, led by Andrew Hudson.

“Our excellence is reflected in there being more than one senior player to consider for the position,” said Lorgat. “Hashim is respected throughout the cricket world, not only as a player, but a person of integrity and value.”

Lorgat added that since Amla had stepped into the vital number three batting position, he had made it his own. He also touched on Amla’s versatility in adapting to all formats of the game.

“That he is ranked among the world’s best batsmen in Test cricket and ODI level speaks volumes for his skills and understanding of the game,” he said.

“He is a huge role model in upholding the best traditions and spirit of the game and leadership was a natural progression from this.”

Amla’s presence in the Test side brings much-needed stability to the side, especially in the light of Smith and Kallis retiting from the Test arena.

Amla, noted for his humility, said he was honoured to lead the side and was confident he could make an impact as a player and leader.

“It is an honour and privilege to be given such a responsibility but I pay tribute to Graeme Smith and his leadership throughout my time in the national side,” he said. “I take this role with a positive attitude, knowing the side is in a really good space, competing with the world’s best and confident of getting that number one ranking back.

“There is a strong core of senior and experienced players to help me steer the ship, plus some talented newcomers making their mark. I am confident of making a contribution to the game and team in this new leadership role of mine.”

Amla will lead the Proteas in two Tests against Sri Lanka next month, in Sri Lanka, a match against Zimbabwe and against the West Indies who visit our shores over Christmas and New Year.

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