Amla: Captaining at home is special

2014-12-16 12:04
Hashim Amla (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - For the first time since 1995 South Africa will be without both Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith in a home series, and new Proteas captain Hashim Amla will be relishing the chance to dominate the West Indies starting with the first Test in Centurion on Wednesday.

"Captaining at home for the first time is something special. Having made my captaincy debut overseas there wasn't as much hype, which was maybe a good thing," said Amla on Tuesday.

Kallis made his debut for South Africa in Durban against Australia in 1995 and called time on his career in the Boxing Day Test last year against India at the same venue.

Three months later, Smith decided during the third and final Test against Australia at Newlands that match would be his last for South Africa.

Amla took over the reigns as captain following the retirement of Smith, and his first assignment was an away series in July against Sri Lanka, which the Proteas won 1-0.

With that away series win, South Africa also reclaimed their number one spot in the rankings.

South Africa were heavy favourites for the three Test series against their Caribbean opponents, and Amla said the timing of the contest suited him perfectly.

"We knew when Graeme and Jacques retired we'd go through a transition period.

"But now I'm more settled in the captaincy, and having been away from home for quite a while... so to be at home to give the fans hopefully some victories will be great."

South Africa were likely to hand Stiaan van Zyl a Test debut, and Amla was confident the 27-year-old would be able to turn in a good performance.

"There's a very good chance he'll make his debut. Stiaan's been in the system for quite some time. He's a real quality player, and if he gets his chance I'm sure he'll do well."

South Africa, as the number one team, come up against the eighth-ranked West Indies following player withdrawals from the squad and pay disputes with their board over the last few months.

West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin hoped his side would start well with the bat, and the skipper himself said he wanted to make a meaningful contribution with the willow.

"Our batting hasn't been up to scratch in the last few years, and as the captain I like to lead from the front," said Ramdin.

The one area where the West Indies could pose problems for South Africa is with the ball, and led by 25-year-old left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell -- who has just one Test cap behind his name -- Ramdin was optimistic about his side's chances.

"We'll give the South Africans a good challenge.

"I believe at some point in time he'll be some sort of surprise, it's something that will work to our advantage."

Their line-up for this week's Test is missing the injured Chris Gayle as well as Dwayne Bravo, who is not participating due to personal reasons.

"It's important for us to forget about that, not having Chris Gayle in our top order has been a blow.

"We're going to put that behind us, but we'll just take it one step at a time and give it our best."

The visitors have only ever won a single Test in South Africa -- in Port Elizabeth in 2007 -- and would be expected to find the going difficult against the Proteas from day one of the series.

Wednesday also marks 10 years to the day that Proteas stalwarts AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn made their Test debuts -- against England in Port Elizabeth -- and Amla said the pair were the best in world cricket.

"Those two guys have been exceptional for us. You could see from the start Dale had that raw pace, and over the years he's refined his skills to something that is unmatched in the world.

"It was the same with AB, you could see the raw talent from the start and now he's refined his skills to such an extent that I don't think there's a better batter in the world."

Read more on:    west indies  |  proteas  |  hashim amla  |  cricket


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