Cricket is a game of truth.
Test players are generally not suited to the white ball. Your Test batting average should be higher than your ODI one. The best South Africans play for England. Graceful players are not the best sloggers.
Hashim Amla has taken these false gods and smashed their little porcelain heads all over the floor.
Today, ‘The Hash’ became the fastest ever player to reach 20 ODI centuries.
It only took him just a paltry 108 innings. That’s a hundred every 5.5 times he bats. That’s better than what AB de Villiers can muster. It’s faster than Virat Kohli. The concord never went at this breakneck speed.
Amla doesn’t initially strike you as an ODI bezerker. He’s the mild mannered Clark Kent of cricket. Softly spoken. Avoids the media. Humbly religious. The anti South African. No bravado.
His rise to the Test captaincy raised a few eyebrows. Not because he isn’t a leader of men. And not because he beat out ABdV for the role. But because he put up his hand in the first place. Proof that he harbours ambition on a grander scale. Not that it is overtly obvious. Not that we ever doubted it was there. We just didn’t consider it. Amla never speaks to us or shares his inner workings. He is hidden. We forget about him.
Hashim has an ODI batting average better than his Test one. Interesting in its rareness. Remarkable given his red ball number is 52.78.
But the surprises don’t end there. He has scored only 1000 less ODI than Test runs, despite facing almost 7000 fewer balls.
If Amla is a Test great, what does that make him in the ODI sense?
It is easy to get lost in the South African wizardry of Steyn and ABdV. Both may possibly end their careers as the best ever in their craft. However, the quiet Durban native is just as special, smoother and definitely the least ODI looking of the trio.
An Amla cover drive doesn’t belong in the 48th over of a run chase. It belongs in the first hour after lunch. But somehow he has made it fit. Mark Waugh had a similar quality but without the raw numbers to underpin it. Hashim has no such issue.
In the era of iPhones, T20 and instant gratification, Amla represents the yesteryear. He is the telegraph, untimed Tests and patience. These traits are diametrically opposed to performing well in coloured clothing. They certainly are not attributes of a modern legend. Yet in his case, they are.
Forget Hashim Alma at your own peril. One day he won’t be playing. You probably will not even notice he has gone.
No one remembers the glide through slips for four or the gentle flick to the mid wicket boundary. Instead, today’s youth insist we measure the length of maximums and rejoice at reverse sweeps. These truly are lesser pleasures.
It’s the difference between a one night stand or a life long commitment.
You will tell your mates about one of them at the pub. You will gain true joy and contentment from the other.
Reproduced with permission at First Post