Everyone jumped on the bandwagon prior to the selection announcement of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup squad last Thursday, about whether or not Hashim Amla should be booking a ticket to England and Wales.
People, including this writer, were absolutely concerned about the form of one of South Africa’s greatest batsman. His form against Pakistan and Sri Lanka along with his lack of runs in the domestic CSA T20 Challenge, were giving people ammunition to fire a broadside at the 36-year old opening veteran.
Amla’s lack of runs and even his demeanour on the field left much to be desired – putting down simple catches, almost taking out his team-mates when going for a catch, and not to mention his body language. But one just has to analyse the figures over the last three years and his two last World Cups to know that Amla has the pedigree and talent to see this through!
Reeza Hendricks can feel a little aggrieved at not having done enough to book his seat on an SAA flight to London but Amla’s inclusion has now put to bed the discussion – even if it is just in the CSA boardroom!
Fans will talk till the cows come home about whether the selection panel have made the right decision, even when the the tournament kicks off on 30 May when the Proteas tackle the hosts, England, in the opening game.
Even if we just look at the last 12 months, Amla has scored just 335 runs in this period against the 447 that Hendricks put together. OK, so one point to Hendricks!
However, Amla’s average over this period is 47.85 while Hendricks averaged 34.38 – all square now are we not? Both men have scored one century and two fifties as well but here is the deciding set.
Amla has a strike-rate of 92.28 while Hendricks is scoring at 77.33 runs per 100 balls. Amla is the fifth-highest run-scorer in the last 12 months, behind captain Faf du Plessis, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen.
Amla has a better average than De Kock while also boasting the third-highest strike-rate out of the five. Truth be told, Du Plessis and De Kock have carried the side over the last two years as the pair are the only ones to have scored more than 1000 runs in 24 months.
Amla’s career in English conditions in one day internationals is the best by any South African by a long way, and that includes the likes of Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith.
Amla has played 18 matches just off the continent, batting 17 times and scoring 851 runs at an average of 56.73. The talisman has notched up two centuries and four fifties in this time at a healthy strike-rate of 90.43.
Amla is also the only Protea to have scored a one day century on English soil and no one has scored more half-centuries than the right-handed opener.
The saying goes: “You’re only as good as your last innings”, and that may be so – but professionals will tell you: “Form is temporary, class, is permanent.” And class is what Amla is!
With South Africa flying in under the radar so to speak – not being touted as favourites for the first time since their inaugural tournament in 1992, South Africa, and Amla, may just surprise a few people.
Bring on the World Cup and bring it home Amla!