Amla ups his pulling game

2010-07-21 15:39
Hashim Amla (Gallo)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Johannesburg – Hashim Amla, South Africa’s Cricketer of the Year, acknowledges that his quest to improve his hooking and pulling game has played a role in his rich harvest of international runs in recent months.

The KwaZulu-Natalian was a popular winner of the main laurel and several others at Tuesday’s 2010 SA Cricket Awards banquet at the Sandton Convention Centre here.

And he told Sport24 that consciously adding those strings to his batting bow had aided his cause – especially in the one-day arena for the Proteas.

“That’s correct, it wasn’t my strong point,” he said, in response to the suggestion that he was employing those strokes more routinely and with increasing confidence during his spectacular successes for the country in India and the West Indies, in particular.

“I’m especially happy to have developed my game in that respect to suit the one-day format, which necessitates you playing the pull more.

“In Tests the requirement is not always to score so quickly, so you aren’t as pressured to hook and pull regularly.

“I don’t have a hooking mentor as such … I’ve done a lot of work against the bowling machine. You’ve just got to find your own way. It’s certainly not perfected yet in my case.

“But you do benefit from watching someone like AB (de Villiers) in the team; he is one who pulls very well with his fantastic, quick hands.

“It worked well for me in the West Indies and I’d like to keep improving.

“Obviously in South Africa you’re dealing with a lot more bounce, so maybe the ball is hitting the splice a bit more and you have to be more wary.”

The main features of Amla’s year were his veritable mountain of runs in the shared Test series in India, followed by a 400-plus return in the five-match ODI series against West Indies.

His season ended in less spectacular fashion as he averaged only 20.33 in the three-Test series in the Caribbean, although South Africa won that 2-0 and players like De Villiers, Ashwell Prince and Jacques Kallis compensated with their own weight of runs.

Amla conceded that a degree of mental and physical exhaustion may have crept in after several weeks of marathon vigils at the crease.

“A few loose shots contributed to my downfall; I can’t really pinpoint one particular aspect but it was a combination of factors, yes, coming at the end of a long season.

“It was disappointing not to end it on a high note, but by the same token I’m really grateful at the way things turned out everywhere else.

“You’ve got to keep things simple in this game – that’s how I’ve traditionally looked at it -- and sometimes you need reminders.

“There’s a fine line between edging a ball and missing it. Sometimes it goes for you and other times it doesn’t.

“It was incredibly hot at times (in the Caribbean). I felt it particularly in the one-dayers; it was a little cooler generally for the Test series. The wickets were slow and a little strange to get to (grips with).

“But it’s credit to a good Test team when, if one individual is not getting runs, others are doing it, as happened in our series win.”

Amla says he will not fall into the trap of “taking for granted” personal success when India face South Africa in all three major formats again, this time as the main event of the looming local summer.

“The wickets in India are great to bat on, make no mistake. In South Africa there’s always a better opportunity for bowlers. Maybe India’s spinners will get nullified a little bit -- but I also remember playing both India and Pakistan here a few years ago on surprisingly turning tracks and we came out on top.

“We rather hope it’s not quite like that (again) but it will be a tough ask whatever the conditions – they’ve got a quality batting line-up, as we all know.”

Read more on:    hashim amla  |  proteas

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