Town - Regardless of what happens between now and the 2019 World Cup in
England, which is likely to be the 'Mighty Hash's' swansong on the
international stage, Hashim
Amla will go down as one of the greatest batsmen that
South African cricket has ever produced.
The decline over recent months,
however, cannot be ignored.
While the Proteas have not played
Test cricket since July when they lost 2-0 in Sri Lanka, Amla is looking out of
sorts in all formats.
His Mzansi Super League (MSL)
campaign came to an end with a second-ball duck for the Durban Heat against the
Tshwane Spartans on Wednesday.
mid-way through the competition, Amla carded scores of 15, 24, 12, 0, 4, 16 and 0 for a
tournament average of just 10.1.
In his last 10 Test innings, meanwhile, Amla has scored 299 runs at an
average of 29.9 while
his last Test century came all the way back in October, 2017 against
Remarkably, Amla has also amassed 299 runs in
his last 10 ODI innings for the same
average of 29.9.
Those returns, for a man of his
obvious pedigree and ability, do not add up.
Every player goes through dips in
form, but Amla is not any player. He is supposed to be special, and he is
supposed to be the reliable performer that the Proteas can always lean back on,
regardless of format.
Amla's next assignment for South
Africa will come in the longest format when the Proteas take on Pakistan at
Centurion in the Boxing Day Test.
It is probably the best possible
scenario for the out-of-sorts former skipper to find himself in.
needs time at the crease, and the Test stage will give him an opportunity to fight
his way back into form without the relentless pressure of scoring quickly.
With a squad of just 13 named for
those three Pakistan Tests, Amla can only be replaced by the uncapped Zubayr
Hamza if things do not go well.
He will, in all certainty, play
all of those matches and the hope will be that he comes good before the start
of a crucially important five-match ODI series.
The Proteas have just 10 ODIs left between now and the 2019
World Cup, and the race for places in that 15-man squad is reaching its
By the time the ODI series gets
underway, Amla will hope to have has found his touch again after hours spent at
the crease in the Test matches.
His partnership with Quinton de
Kock at the top of the order is considered one of South Africa's biggest
strengths in their attempt to win a first ever World Cup.
If Amla continues to struggle, though,
the Proteas do have other options.
Reeza Hendricks has been one of
the standout players in the MSL and looks to be in the form of his life.
If Amla is fit, regardless of form,
he plays. That has always been the rule when it comes to megastars and match
winners of that ilk.
It is a slippery slope, though,
and the bad form has lingered for long enough now to spark some questions over whether
Amla's best years are behind him.
It is a road that Faf du Plessis,
Ottis Gibson and the Proteas brains trust will want to avoid going down at all
In all likelihood, there is no
need to panic. The best players bounce back time and time again and prove their
They are always one knock away
from finding form.
For Amla, that knock cannot come
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