3 June 2014
Hashim Amla has been appointed captain of South Africa’s test cricket team, becoming the first black cricketer to hold the post permanently. He takes over from Graeme Smith, who retired earlier this year after a world record 109 matches in charge.
Cricket South Africa made the appointment on Monday, naming AB de Villiers, who is captain of the Proteas’ one-day international team, as Amla’s deputy in the test team.
South Africa’s first black test cricket captain was Ashwell Prince, who led the Proteas on a tour of Sri Lanka in July and August 2006 after Graeme Smith withdrew from the tour because of an injury.
Highly respected throughout the cricket world, not only for his excellence as a batsman, but also for his calm demeanour, Amla becomes the fifth (permanent) South African test cricket captain since the country returned to international cricket in 1992.
He follows in the footsteps of Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Shaun Pollock and Smith. Besides Prince, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis also served as stand-in captains during that time.
Amla previously captained the South African under-19 team and KwaZulu-Natal provincial side the Dolphins, but he chose to step down from the leadership role with the franchise to concentrate on his batting.
The 31-year-old has scored 6 214 test runs at an average of 51.35, with 21 centuries and 27 fifties. He is the South African record holder for the highest score in a test innings of 311 against England in the first test at the Kennington Oval in London in July 2012.
His first series in charge will in July be against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, where the Proteas will play two tests.
‘An honour and a privilege’
“It is an honour and a privilege to be given this responsibility,” Amla said in a statement on Monday.
“I would like to pay tribute to the leadership Graeme Smith has provided throughout my international career. This is an exciting challenge but one that I take on with positivity with our test team being in an exceptionally good space at the moment with the support of a strong core of senior players.
“I have concentrated on taking my batting to the highest possible level, and now I feel I am in a position to make a contribution to South African cricket in a leadership role.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Haroon Lorgat welcomed Amla’s appointment, which was taken with a unanimous decision by the CSA board of directors, saying: “It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Hashim on his appointment.
“It is a reflection of the excellence and standing of our senior players that there was more than one quality candidate to consider for this most important leadership position.
“Hashim is universally respected, both in South Africa and around the cricketing world, not only for his quality as a player, which has seen him ranked among the best batsmen in the world in both test and ODI cricket, but also for his personal qualities,” Lorgat said.
“He has shown his steel in playing in the key number three batting position, one which he took over from Jacques Kallis with great success.
“The manner in which he has adapted his game to suit the different forms of cricket speaks volumes for his skills to react to changing circumstances.”
Citing the standing Amla has earned in the world of cricket through the example he has set, Lorgat added: “He has earned particular respect as a role model for his humility and his upholding of the best traditions and spirit of the game. Becoming captain is a natural progression for his outstanding career and we are indeed fortunate to have a leader of his quality.
“Stability has been one of the endearing qualities he has brought to the Proteas and this is important at a time when we have had to replace several key players in [Graeme] Smith, [Jacques] Kallis and [Mark] Boucher.”
The sponsors of the Proteas’ test and one-day international teams, Castle Lager, added their congratulations, with South African Breweries Sponsorship and Castle Lager General Manager Alastair Hewitt saying in a statement: “We welcome and support the decision by Cricket SA and the coaching team and congratulate Hashim Amla on his well-deserved appointment.
“We would like to assure him of our continued support and commitment, as we have done for previous Proteas captains.”