Cricket 9.1.2017 10:44 am

Hashim Amla’s 100th Test: The highs of a bearded talisman

The classiest man on any cricket field: Hashim Amla. Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images.

The classiest man on any cricket field: Hashim Amla. Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images.

The Proteas star will become the 8th South African to reach that mark on Thursday. There were various highlights on that journey.

From Thursday at the Wanderers, where the Proteas and Sri Lanka  conclude their Test series, Hashim Amla will become the eight South Africa to play 100 Tests.

Here are the highs of a magnificent career to date:

A maiden Test ton in Autumn – April 2006

When New Zealand came to South Africa for a three-Test tour in mid-2006, various commentators called the series “midwinter madness” due to dodgy conditions.

That “madness” seemingly continued after the selectors selected Amla to replace a “mentally tired” Herschelle Gibbs.

At that stage, he had scored a pitiful 62 runs in six innings.

Amla responded with a gritty 149 off 317 deliveries, showing his fighting spirit.

Also read: Who is Duanne Olivier, Kyle Abbott’s replacement?

The innocuous fifties that saved his career – January 2007

Amla’s first Test century was actually a bit of false dawn.

After scoring 56 in his very next knock, he only managed one more half-century in 11 innings.

Doubts over his suitability for the pinnacle form of the game started to surface again before he guided the Proteas to a tricky win over Pakistan in Centurion.

He had set a good platform with a solid 71 in the first innings and then made an awkward chase easy with an unbeaten 64.

The selection axe was avoided.

 

A star is (finally) born – November 2007

The Proteas’ one-sided Test series against New Zealand at home was notable for how it launched several careers.

Dale Steyn emerged as the world’s leading fast bowler and Jacques Kallis took his game to a new level.

Amla also joined the party, stroking a brilliant, unbeaten 176 at the Wanderers and sharing a partnership of 330 with Kallis.

A few days later, he made 103 in Centurion, combining well again with the indomitable Kallis.

Rockstar in India – March 2008

There’s no better place to raise your profile as an international cricketer than India.

On the flattest of pitches in Chennai, Amla announced himself.

He scored 159 and 81 in that first Test and added a further fifty in the third as the Proteas remarkably drew the series in a country where touring sides struggle.

Average … 490 – February 2010

By now, Amla is an established, classy player.

But it would never just end there.

Comfortable in his skin, the bearded talisman becomes one of the greats with a scarcely believable Test series in … yip, India again.

He looks immovable in making a then career-high 253 in Nagpur as the Proteas win.

The going is tougher for them in Kolkata but not Amla.

He compiles twin centuries – 114 and 123* – to end with a massive 490 runs.

It’s the second most in the history of a two-Test series.

The triple century – July 2012

Test cricket aficionados will tell it’s really cool when a Test team’s highest individual score is more than 300.

South Africa had to wait 123 years for one of their batters to reach that mark and when it was dreamt about, people felt it would come off the blade of an AB de Villiers, Kallis or Graeme Smith.

Instead, it was Amla.

It still feels wholly appropriate that his unbeaten 311 was scored at The Oval in London, an iconic venue.

The ruthless enforcer – Perth 2012

The Proteas were on the back foot for most of their Test series against the Aussies Down Under but they had the uncanny knack of knowing when to strangle an opponent.

When South Africa led unexpectedly after the first innings in Perth, Amla and Smith smelt blood.

They pasted the Aussie attack, with Amla crashing a sublime 196 off only 221 balls.

It was a majestic effort that helped South Africa clinch back-to-back series win in Australia.

A perfect goodbye to the captaincy – January 2016

Initially, Amla and the captaincy seemed a good fit in mid-2014.

He scored a vital 139 in Colombo as South Africa gained a first Test series win in Sri Lanka for 21 years.

There was also a double century against the West Indies.

Thereafter, things started to tail off as it became apparent he simply doesn’t like that type of responsibility.

As a result, he signed off with a marathon 201 against a good English attack at Newlands.

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