All teams go through ups and downs: Hashim Amla on South Africa’s recent slump
Hashim Amla’s retirement post the World Cup has left a huge hole in the South African batting line-up as evident on their recent tour of India. The 36-year-old, who is seeking a Kolpak deal with Surrey, says there should be no panic reaction to the Proteas’ capitulation in India. Amla is preparing for T10 action in Abu Dhabi for Karnataka Tuskers which gives young cricketers an opportunity with their Dream2Play scheme. In an interview, the former South Africa captain refused to be drawn into the talk that Virat Kohli’s world No 1 India are the best-ever Test side from the country.
How different has life been away from international cricket, especially seeing South Africa play the way they have?
Watching the Proteas in India, they did not do too well. As an ardent supporter of the team, it was certainly disappointing but then at the same time having played the game you have to understand these things happen in international cricket. Teams do go through (periods) wherein they do not perform well. Knowing the Proteas team, they will come back stronger. With this setback (0-3 Test series loss to India), I know they will come back stronger in the next series.
Your thoughts post South Africa’s series loss in India?
We have to be very aware that (after) one bad tour like the one we have had in India, everybody starts scrambling and looking for reasons for it (team’s failure). But whenever we had lost a tour, we would take the responsibility; yes, we did not play well enough—if that was the case. But if we had a good tour we would say we played well enough and we keep improving. It is difficult to quantify what has just come up.
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About 3-4 years ago with all big names present, South Africa would perhaps not have seen this severe a slump?
I do not have an answer to that question; I wish I had. All I know is teams do go through such ups and downs. It was disappointing we lost the series but India were the better team. They played good cricket, their batsmen scored runs and their bowlers took wickets. That is all you can ask for—everybody was performing. I am sure it will not be long before the Proteas team are back to winning ways.
Would you like to coach the South African side? Many former cricketers have, with teams like India and Australia making use of them?
I am still playing, so having just retired literally—only three months ago—I still like playing domestic cricket, T10, etc. So I am not quite sure how well would that fit in at the moment. But in time to come if I do go down the route of coaching and telling the others… which I really, really enjoy, why not? But at the moment I am still quite busy playing domestic cricket.
How do you see the impact of Kolpak on South African cricket?
When I started playing for South Africa, when I first started playing domestic cricket, we had a few Kolpak players. Back then I was 20-years-old. For the Kolpak, we had guys like Claude Henderson and that they had been through that system (Kolpak), they would play domestic cricket in South Africa, or they would so much be in the (domestic) system that we gained a lot of experience from them. Obviously their cricket improved a lot because they were playing in the off-season as well. How it impacts now, I’m not entirely sure because we look at some of the players who did leave South Africa to play in England. But there were good cricketers too who pulled their positions as well.
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You have played against different Indian teams. Would you rate Virat Kohli’s one of the best Test sides?
It is difficult to say. Having played against Sachin (Tendulkar), (Rahul) Dravid, (VVS) Laxman, (Sourav) Ganguly, (Virender) Sehwag… Thinking of those names, you are not going to get a batting line-up which is going to be better than that, worldwide. India at the moment are playing really good cricket, they are established and a balanced team. They are doing well. But I am sure Indian teams before have been through this (dip in performance). I cannot speak for long because I am not aware of the entire history of Indian cricket. But having played against Sachin and the like, that team was brilliant. (Anil) Kumble and Harbhajan (Singh) were fantastic bowlers. It may be for other people to decide, but I have played against some really good cricketers and (with) the change in over a decade, I do not think you can really compare each team.
Do you think South African domestic system needs a relook after the talent drain?
All these things only come up because we lost a series in India. I have not had too many thoughts that we have to look into it. I mean two or three series ago when we beat Australia and India, in South Africa, no one was talking about it. But now that we have lost one series this chat takes place, which for me is a little bit surprising—nothing else to say as I am not so well educated on the structure and all that.
How do you rate T10 League, a format gaining worldwide popularity?
The way T10 cricket is starting now is very similar to how T20 had a decade ago. If everything goes well there is nothing to stop the format from gaining traction. It is attractive to the spectators, has a short game and one can expect a lot of boundaries and entertainment. Over time, there would be a change (impact of T10 cricket on other formats), just how you would think T20 cricket impacted bowlers and batsmen.