I agree (not that I do it a lot) with those who lament that the Proteas have been poor and are some distance off the required standards to beat teams like England, Bangladesh and India in white ball cricket, even more so in the World Cup. I also agree that some players shouldn’t have been taken to the World Cup, but I don’t agree that one of those players is Hashim Amla.
I don’t mean to sound like some self-exalting cricket expert, but common sense tells me that those who say Hash didn’t deserve the seat on which he was sitting on the flight to the United Kingdom are clearly not cricket people, i.e. are people who don’t generally watch the game. What’s even more evident is that they don’t follow one-day cricket for them to know that the top order batsman is one of the most experienced and finest in the South African squad, with 177 matches under his belt and 7 900-plus runs.
What’s more is that the right-hander has an insane average of 48, that is, he scores, on average, 48 runs every time he comes out to bat, and has 27 hundreds and 37 fifties, with a strike rate of 89. I’m not even the biggest Hashim Amla fan but these numbers don’t lie and I can’t deny that. You also can’t argue against the man’s determination to do well because, I mean, just before the start of the tournament, he took some time out to train on his own in order to work on areas of his batting that he thought needed special attention. And the result? Two consecutive 50s in the space of three days in the warm-up matches against Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
I know that those don’t count anymore because the actual thing has begun and he hasn’t been able to replicate that form as yet, but I would plead with anyone who criticizes the great man to take time to think about the aforementioned numbers and really think about whether they would still want to leave out a batsman of such class at the greatest stage of them all, in a Proteas team that has looked so unconvincing with the bat of late.
About the rest of the team, I think the critics are being too quick to forget three very important things. The first being that the Proteas are actually still in with a chance, albeit slim, of qualifying for the knockout stages, which means we haven’t been knocked out as yet. There are still five matches to go in the league stage and our next game is against Afghanistan on Saturday. The second being that the team has had two key quick bowlers injured during the tournament – the irreplaceable Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi – not to mention that the promising Anrich Nortje was ruled out of the tournament before he could even board the plane.
Thirdly, this is the Proteas we are talking about – the third-best One-Day International team in the world. These guys are very capable of turning the situation around and you can’t put it past them to win the game on Saturday in Cardiff, and then go on to beat all of New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, in the remaining games.
I mean, the beating of Pakistan and Sri Lanka is something they have done quite convincingly in recent series, and with everything hanging on the game against the Aussies, it’s not unthinkable that they would beat them too.
Let’s have a bit of faith.