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PE Test: Is this Hash’s swansong?

Forum » Cricket » PE Test: Is this Hash’s swansong?

Feb 19, 2019, 12:38

Cape Town - It’s an issue many may prefer to tiptoe around.

But it is no longer an unreasonable question to ask: might Thursday’s now redemptive-themed second Test against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park turn out to be the great Hashim Amla’s last - his 124th - for the Proteas?

There are increasingly compelling reasons for believing this could be the case.

Although he has served no specific public notice of his international plans beyond the looming World Cup in England and Wales, that is the obvious enough type of occasion for a long-serving cricketer of his amazing record and calibre to treat as a swansong: many illustrious players before him have used the 50-overs jamboree, staged every four years, for that purpose.

Amla will have turned 36, too, by the time the event comes along in late May - he is a family man who has been on the draining, globe-trotting circuit in distinguished service of his country (often across all three formats) since as far back as 2004.

Following the series-ending clash with the ‘Lankans, which the Proteas have to win just to share the spoils after the Kusal Perera-inspired upset in Durban, South Africa play no further Test cricket until well after CWC 2019.

That will be their taxing first assignment in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship, a three-Test series away to currently planet-leading India in October.

It seems like the dawning of a new era in so many ways, and whether Amla will even desire to be part of it is uncertain at this point.

The overwhelming majority of Proteas enthusiasts will be wishing very fervently that the once-imperious right-hander gets to retire on his own terms, as he so richly deserves ... but his markedly declining form at both Test and one-day international level in the past year or more is also becoming problematic to the point that his status as a senior figure in the team is now more tenuous than it has been at any stage of his multi-format career for South Africa.

Once possibly earmarked for sublime, completed career batting averages in the lower- to mid-50s in both Tests and ODIs, he has dipped southward a little depressingly in both: he currently stands at 46.95 in the former and 49.74 in the latter.

In a frontline batting order that is collectively, worryingly vulnerable, Amla failed to fire significantly again in the nail-biting one-wicket reverse to the Sri Lankans at Kingsmead, being dismissed for 3 and 16.

The time is getting closer - some will argue passionately it has already arrived - for the Proteas brains trust to act decisively in selection terms to try to restore higher standards at and near the top of the order, although, in Amla’s specific defence, his second-last Test saw him register key, fighting knocks of 41 and 71 in the third Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers.

He deserves to play in Port Elizabeth purely on those grounds, and even before you begin to weigh up the potential effect of sacrificing his enormous know-how at this fragile time.

But if he doesn’t weigh in with meaningful runs at St George’s Park, it could have the effect of persuading him even more profoundly that it may be time to call it quits in the Test arena: either that or coax the national selectors into believing that new blood will be required at his expense ahead of the novel Test Championship.

The thought of travelling to India later in the year without Amla is a pretty scary one, just based on what we all know he CAN do when he is consistently on top of his game.

Although he was among the many South African batsmen to have a relative shocker on the prior Test tour there in 2015, when controversial, lotto-like dustbowls were the order of the day, he has performed phenomenally there before.

Who could ever forget his 2010 series, where his only three innings produced 253 not out at Nagpur and 114 and 123 not out at Kolkata?

But anything even vaguely near that astonishing consistency hasn’t been notably apparent from Amla for a long time: the period has stretched to 27 innings now since his last Test century (against Bangladesh at Bloemfontein) while his last against a fellow member of the “big four” nations came against England as far back as January 2016 at Centurion.

He is at very least flirting with the axe although, on the positive side, he traditionally fares rather better at St George’s Park (average 40.33) than he does at Kingsmead, where his figure slid even further over the last few days to 18.00.

But if you are locally-based and count yourself among the ranks of the well-subscribed Hashim Amla Appreciation Society, it might well be worth turning out in the Friendly City to see him take guard once or twice against Sri Lanka and earnestly will him on to success.

At least at Test level, there may be few - or increasingly likelier no - further opportunities.


Feb 19, 2019, 13:19

Denny

I am seriously believing that unless there are experience gained by younger players -

*   the Proteas will have virtually insurmountable problems at the Cricket WC; and

*   the Proteas will be at a serious disadvantage in the new Test competition starting with a three test series against India in October 2019.

We cannot enter the 2 competitions with totally inexperienced or less experienced players,   Amla was poor in the key quarterfinal match against New Zealand in 2011 and similarly so in the semi-final in the 2015 also against New Zealand.   Those two poor results put a question mark as to his ability to handle stress in key matches in the WC.   It must be borne in mind that in the 2 WC events referred to Amla was in top form with average way above 50 in both tests and ODI's.   One can never say the same about his performances over the last year - where failure was more in evidence than success.   

Amla's fielding also became problematic - especially insofar as ODI's are concerned.   It became more evident in the  Pakistani ODI's where his missed catches cost the Proteas dearly,

I am always in favour when great players retire from international cricket when in great form.   One can look at players like AB and Kallis for examples.   Smith was ingloriously kicked out of the ODI squad and afterwards announced his retirement from cricket.   It will be a pity if the latter happen to Amla - whose reputation could be severely damaged should he continue with his international career.

 Amla is not getting any younger and his basic problems as to eye-hand co-ordination and reflections will not improve.  .I would rather prefer it if he announce his retirement himself from international cricket - rather than see his reputation being spoiled by him letting the Proteas down and being left out of the squad by the selectors.     

Feb 20, 2019, 00:01

Hash has to retire after the WC, he is all but done.

The likes of Faf, Steyn and Elgar will not be far behind

We have a very old side

Feb 20, 2019, 03:50

Dave

Elgar was not in the ODI squad for years now - so he is not in contention at all to play in the WC,   Faf will not go on beyond the WC  - neither will Steyn.  

Fact is that Amla is failing fast and in the WC he will be a serious liability. I think the fact is that there are already rumours floating around about Amla - hence the recent articles of  Houwing.   The above article is the second one in a week on the Amla issue - the first one dealt with Ekgar as well.   

I will not be surprised at all if Amla announces his retirement before the start of the ODI series against Sri Lanka.            

Feb 20, 2019, 06:50

Is Markham also retiring?

Feb 20, 2019, 06:57

Markram has all the potential to develop into a great batsmen, Amla had that potential and delivered. No-one beats father time...it's time to move on.

Feb 20, 2019, 06:58

Hash has to retire after before the WC, he is all but done.

Feb 20, 2019, 10:09

Agree with you in this case.   The WC is not a glory end-of-career event - it is a battle to win the series.   Kallis realized that and retired before the selection of the squad for the 2015 WC - Graeme Smith did not and was dumped ingloriously by the selectors in 2013 already.

Markham has not played ODI cricket for a while recently - but when he did play test cricket it showed a hard-hitting batsman making in the main enough runs at a high strike rate.   I would rather that either Markram opens the batting and Van der Dussen coming in at 3 or vice versa.  

Feb 20, 2019, 11:47

We know Hash will be in the WC he needs to retire thereafter.

Mike I was not implying that Elgar was in the ODI side I’m just saying he will be in line to retire sometime after Amla as will Faf and Steyn given their ages.

Unfortunately the only two class young bats we have are Markram and de Kock.

We are looking good in the bowling stakes where Rabada, Ngidi, Olivier and Sipamla are young

Feb 20, 2019, 12:10

Put Sipamla on the backburner and fast forward Nortje. Olivier in test cricket is fine....he has yet to convince with the white ball.

Feb 20, 2019, 15:34

"Put Sipamla on the backburner"


He isn't test quality and in my opinion as head talent spotter, he doesnt have anything special to offer other than his skin color.


He is a regular seam bowler. Nothing much more than that.

Feb 20, 2019, 15:35

Dave

Are you sure Amla will in fact be in the WC - I am not at all sure he will be,  but lets wait and see whether he plays in the Sri Lanka ODI's.   If he plays and fails again - like he factually did in ODI's the past year I think he may be toast.

I agree with Denny about Sipamla.   He has not been playing ODI's yet and .and he was in the T20's only,   However, Nortje is playing for the Colcutta Knight Riders in the IPL and may be used against Sri Lanka as well.   We may see a lot more of him before the WC and I think Dale Steyn may be right iro his assessment.      

Feb 20, 2019, 20:21

Amla will definitely be in the WC squad, I’d put my shack on that.

Flash you are speaking kak, Simpala looks classy, beautiful action, looks as talented as Rabada and Ngidi.

I have yet to see Nortje am looking forward to it.

Feb 20, 2019, 21:29

saffex Wasim Akram has a shit action but he is an all time great.

Andy Caddick has a lovely action but he was shit.

Action schmaction... He doesn’t do much with the ball. He isn’t bad. He just doesn’t have the X factor like Ngidi or KG.

Feb 20, 2019, 21:30

And it’s Sipamla btw. Like Amla but with a sip before

Feb 20, 2019, 22:20

I’ll go with AB’s call on him saying he is going to be a great. He does no less with the ball than Ngidi does.

He impressed me and I don’t get them wrong apart from Philander who I initially said was a plodder!!

Feb 20, 2019, 23:51

... and JJ Engelbrecht and Jaco Taute Haha Just taking the Mickey out of ya

Feb 20, 2019, 23:56

I stand by Jaco and JJ but got Philander completely wrong

Feb 21, 2019, 02:46

When Dale Steyn sings the praises of a bowler to high heaven and when the great AB allows the first few deliveries from that same bowler to slide past him then I know what to believe. 

It kinda puts into perspective the difference between Nortje and Sipamla who has yet to showcase his skills or lack thereof with the white ball.

Added to that is Mike's above comment....However, Nortje is playing for the Colcutta Knight Riders in the IPL ....

Do the Indians know something? 

I think they do.

Feb 21, 2019, 18:22

Denny

A duck by Amla and 6 by Elgar confirms what I wrote above,   15 for three against Sri Lanka is indeed a disgrace.

Another low score in the second innings would adds to the situation where it could indeed be Amla's swan song,   He  has now scored 19 runs in three innings batted in the two Sri Lanka tests thus far - that is just not good enough.

Sri Lanka has in their first innings has 60 for three and the wicket takers are Rabada (1) and Olivier (2).   The more I see of Olivier the more I like what I see, 




        

 
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