This hasn’t been a great year for South African cricket. First the disappointing performance in the ODI World Cup in England. Then the retirement of their greatest fast bowler, Dale Steyn. And now, the country has been served another disappointing news as Hashim Amla, their best Test batsman in the past many decades, announced his retirement from international cricket.
It’s a body blow to the South African cricket team who had been used to Amla’s calm and solid presence at the top in Tests and ODIs. The 36-year-old hadn’t been in the greatest of forms in the recent past and one could see that he had been struggling to get going. However, with the class Amla possessed one had expected him to come back strongly in the next few seasons. But perhaps it was getting too much for the batsman.
“Firstly, all glory and thanks to the Almighty for granting me this Proteas journey which has been nothing but a joy and privilege,” Amla said in a statement. “I learnt many lessons during this incredible ride, made many friends and most importantly shared in the love of a brotherhood called Protea Fire.”
Amla would continue playing domestic cricket and is likely to play in the upcoming Mzansi Super League 2019. But his presence in the international cricket, especially the longest format, would be dearly missed.
Amla had conquered the Test format like very few have in South African and world cricket. In 124 Tests, Amla garnered 9282 runs at an average of 46.64 with 28 hundreds and 41 fifties. His highest score was 311* v England at The Oval – the only triple hundred by a South African in Test history. Unfortunately, Amla couldn’t do much in his last Test, notching up scores of 0 and 32 against Sri Lanka at Port Elizabeth in February 2019.
While Amla is recognized primarily as a Test batsman, he had a remarkable time in ODI cricket too and did incredibly well in the format, collecting 8113 runs in 181 matches at an average of 49346 with 27 hundreds and 39 fifties. In fact, Amla still remains the quickest batsman in the world to reach the landmarks of 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs. Amla’s last ODI match was against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street in the World Cup 2019 where he scored a solid unbeaten 80 to take his side to victory. It was the perfect Amla knock – quiet, classy and steady. He would be glad that this was his last international knock.
Amla also featured in 44 T20Is for South Africa and collected 1277 runs in them at 33.60 with 8 fifties. His highest T20I score was a terrific unbeaten 97 off 62 balls against Australia at Cape Town.
His excellent records aside, Amla shall always be remembered for his tranquil presence at the crease and his elegance with the bat; very few batsmen in world cricket have been as aesthetically pleasing as him. He was like a monk and one never saw him getting aggravated or angry on the field. He was envied by batsmen for his class, grace, grit and poise and was one of the most respected cricketers of the modern era.
With Amla’s retirement, there would be a massive void, a gaping hole, at the top of the order in the South African Test and ODI outfits. They are unlikely to find someone to fill the great shoes left by Amla very soon.