Hashim Amla resigned from the South African Test captaincy with immediate effect on Wednesday. Amla said that this decision has been one that he has been pondering since the team returned from their horror show in India. AB de Villiers will see the team through the series against England. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
In a turn of events that you couldn’t make it up if you tried, Hashim Amla has resigned from the South African Test captaincy.
We say couldn’t make it up because usually, it’s the English captain who calls it a day at the end of a series against South Africa, like during South Africa’s 2008 tour to England, when Michael Vaughan resigned. This time, the tables have turned.
These kinds of decisions can rock teams, but Amla is just not kind of player to rock the boat. The now former skipper says that he had been pondering the decision since the team’s return from India and even though there was some temptation to carry on after regaining some of his batting form, he simply didn’t feel that he was the right man for the job.
“I feel there is a greater need to work on my own game, thus giving me the opportunity to continue contributing as a batsman,” Amla said.
“I was deeply honoured when the position was offered to me as this is the pinnacle for any sportsman. I am extremely grateful to have had the privilege of captaining this wonderful team.
“I believe there is still a great deal I can offer to the team and look forward to contributing to their success.”
For those who like to bandy about conspiracy theories, rest assured that there seemed to be nothing untoward about Amla’s decision. At his press conference he seemed content, even relieved to an extent. Amla is also not the type of player to hide emotion or be dishonest about his decision.
“If you feel somebody else can do a better job than you, why would you remain to be a hindrance?” Amla added.
Amla finishes his tenure with four wins, four losses and six draws, with a memorable series win in Sri Lanka amongst those. He has, however, come under serious criticism over the last 12 months, both for his form with the bat and for his captaincy tactics. At Newlands, he regained some of his batting form with an emphatic double century, which he constructed over a painstaking 11 hours.
To understand the decision, it is important to distinguish from Amla the batsman and Amla the captain. As a batsman, Amla is thrilling, competitive, and tactically brilliant. As a captain, he has been exactly the opposite. That does not take anything away from the nature of his character. His humility is underscored by the fact that he does not want to bog the team down and within the team environment, he still has a massive role to play and putting the team before himself by giving up the captaincy is the right way to do it.
The man himself reckons that his role is in helping nurture the youngsters who are coming through the system because “he’ll have more time” especially on the field because he “doesn’t have to worry about bowling changes” and such like. With youngsters like Kagiso Rabada and Temba Bavuma coming through the ranks, there is no better time for Amla to take on more of a mentorship role than now.
For the immediate future, AB de Villiers will take over the role. There are two Tests left against England; South Africa need to knuckle down and get something positive out of them.
South Africa’s next series following England will only come in August against New Zealand and team management said further discussions will need to take place, but it is likely that De Villiers will remain in the role. As a one-day captain, De Villiers has had mixed results and has particularly struggled with keeping to the overrate. However, the Test arena is a completely different. The challenge will, undoubtedly, be one that De Villiers’ relishes and having the likes of Amla to draw on from behind the scenes might just be what this team needs to ease through this transition period. DM
Photo: South Africa’s Hashim Amla celebrates reaching his century as he is watched by teammate AB de Villiers (L) and England’s Matt Prior (R) during the third cricket test match at Lord’s in London August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown.
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