Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hail The Rainbow Warrior Hashim Amla!

There was an interview in the early 00's with an ex Australian Rules Footballer Rex Hunt who had taken the Media by storm with his uniquely eccentric style of commentary that had outlets throwing big bucks at him for his services. It is funny how you find such meaning in what was so run of the mill, but this exchange just gave me such clarity and has stood in my subconscious ever since.

In the very opening the reporter who like everyone LOVED Big Rexy congratulated him on being the bolt from the Blue over night sensation of Australia's most followed past time

Hunt with his 6'6 hulking frame lurches forward towards her with a half smirk on his face and after a period of uneasy silence utters this

'Yes...well if you count 25 years of knock backs after knock backs and a relentless desire to succeed coupled with back breaking hard work being constantly ignored.....

Until now.......

Then, Yes I am an 'over night' success '

In a manner you could slate her for not doing her research, but it brought into a bigger picture in which most people look at others who have made it and just assume it was given to them. Without ever fully appreciating the hard work and unshakable belief they have deep within as well as the ability to get up after being knocked down

Moving onto Cricket the game is full of this very assumption with South Africa's Hashim Amla being it's current poster child

A batsman that has us all mesmerised at present with his tranquil genius that has seen him to ascend to the top of the game with many viewing that he has just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he could accomplish in his career

Justifiably fans are immersed in the 'now' of Amla which has such a translucent purity about it that you cannot resist and never can get enough of.

But the essence of his greatness is seen in the many obstacles and stigmas he had to over come in his career. That was made possible through his relentless work ethic coupled with his Jedi like mind

Astounding as it may seem to many, but Hashim Amla was not always seen as great, and it in fact has taken 8 years to be on the verge of it

In his first 17 innings in the Test arena he scored just 380 runs at an average of 22.47 that saw him put on the sidelines for 13 months. Most players in the game have experienced similar form dips, but then the awe in which you view Amla is heightened when you factor in the added spectre of ‘quota’ that clung mercilessly to his every walk to the wicket. That always attached his place in the side to an unfair 'bias'.

His breakthrough came in 2006 in a patient debut century against the Kiwis in Capetown. That was made even more meritorious by the fact that he was plucked out of his exile to be entrusted with the most crucial role in the batting at 3.

As he felt a fleeting sense of belonging with this innings again the rug was pulled from his feet in Sri Lanka with an unfair focus being brought to him with this bizarre bit of commentary from Dean Jones in calling an Amla catch.

'And the terrorist gets another one.......'

Which Jones apologised for after, but the quote alone brought an unwarranted focus on Amla in a time when he was still struggling to justify his place in the Team. And though it has never been brought up as a factor in this stage of his career you cannot deny that it was a huge one. With it being a canstant distraction as he was trying to steele his mind for the demands of Test Cricket.

Ultimately it took Amla 19 months between his first century and second one that embodied further whispers about his ability to succeed in Test Cricket. After the third ton immediately followed his place in the Team has been cast in stone and his form since has been truly mind blowing. A look at the stages of his career ensures this
Hashim Amla's Test career

Hashim Amla's Test career
PeriodRunsAverageStrike rate100s/ 50s
First 15 Tests71425.5042.621/ 5
Last 47 Tests406160.6153.3415/ 18
Career (62 Tests)494650.2651.4116/ 23

Remarkable figures when you take into account that in the period of 47 Tests where he average 60.61 with 15 centuries he out performed two of the greatest number threes ever in Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting. As well as being South Africa's best ever performed number three.

Their is a certain irony in naming Dravid and Ponting in a piece on Amla for they are both the embodiment of the Modern Day Masterful number three despite having such divergent styles. The man known as 'The Wall' Dravid in appreciation of his impregnable defensive game in comparison with the dominance of Pontings attacking flair that ripped attacks to ribbons. If the analogy of a car was used you could state without reservation that these two had all the gears from neutral to over drive and even cruise control.

The burgeoning mastery in Amla of late has been seen in his ability to replicate the greatest strengths of these two icons. You saw this in the two Test series against Australia last year in South Africa where Amla scored two defining centuries with one paying homage to Dravid's defensive acumen and the other emulating Ponting's appetite for destruction.

' In this series, he was the spine, the pulmonary artery, the lungs and the heart of the South African line-up. ' Firdose Moonda

Remarkably as you bask in the wades of evidence of his undeniable Mastery you are compelled to giggle for you just see it as a beginning for him rather than a middle or an end.

As it was rejoiced in England recently with his career average reaching 50 you watched him raise up on his tippy toes in a regal back foot drive that smacked of such elegance and genius that it made you think that 55 will be coming soon, and then 60......

This belief not only born out of a unshakable belief in Amla's 
pedigree in mind and ability, but the place in the game he has forged. He is not only the Golden Child of the Rainbow Nation but indeed a Global icon. Seen as a transcendent figure that has taken away the differentiation that colour represents and has made all embrace as respected equals through what he represents with his modestly tranquil demeanour.

Making you know that the sincere Pride of the man will never allow him to let down this masses and rather the present and future will see him leave them in continued stunned awe.

Symbolically, not since Viv Richards has one being as universally loved as Amla with people adoring him for being such a throwback to times of real respect to the basics where principles and ethics mattered. Rather than being terms found in the mystery section of libraries

"Even if he remains indifferent to the limelight, Amla is single-handedly bringing a veneration back to cricket. His behaviour is outstanding; his play is earnest, honest, artful, but significantly marked by a revolutionary discipline. He bats with an audacious sincerity that is difficult to unhinge. "

Long may he besot all our senses with his sincere grace!

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