Hashim Amla appointment as batting coach for the Gauteng Lions was announced on Wednesday, prompting the question, “Has he ever been away from the game?” Not really, or at least not for long enough for his impact to be forgotten. Certain performers are never forgotten. Some people create enchantment that shines long after they are gone.
Hashim Amla begins his coaching career
Despite Hashim Amla impressive playing resume (28 hundreds, 9,282 runs at 46.64 in 215 Test innings, and the quickest player to achieve 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 6,000, and 7,000 runs in ODIs), he has yet to find coaching success. What could he possibly bring to the table?
More than half of Amla’s international career (89 Tests, 95 ODIs, and 20 T20Is) were spent in the same dressing room as Dale Steyn, and Steyn told Cricbuzz that any side that signs Hashim Amla would gain from him and his presence.
Even if he wasn’t a coach but rather a mentor, a team would benefit greatly from having members speak to and learn from someone as collected and composed as he is. It’s even better that he can provide his opinion as a coach on matters such as where to score, how to score, when to score, and when not to score. That’s huge in terms of batting average.
To add to his leadership qualities, “he led South Africa [in 14 Tests, nine ODIs, and two T20Is, and to the final of the 2002 under-19 World Cup]. He meets numerous requirements in that he can help the captain, the head coach, and any player in that position.
He is one of the friendliest persons I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He refuses to classify himself as part of any set. Hash is a solitary fighter. He is universally likable. Having someone on the team who can be approached by anybody is a huge asset. He knows a lot of stuff, and the Lions are going to gain greatly from that.
In June of this year, Hashim Amla played in his last of 349 international matches. These were distributed to the T10, BPL, and legendary teams of World Giants, Surrey, and the Karnataka Tuskers, Falcon Hunters, and Khulna Tigers.
He scored 718 runs at 39.88 in 21 innings for the latter in last year’s county tournament, including two hundreds and three fifties. Very impressive for someone whose 40th birthday was May 31. Yet, at 487 days younger, he is much younger than James Anderson, who is still active, albeit not quite robust.
Former teammates and opponents alike have shown their gratitude to Hashim Amla for his career and character since he announced his retirement from cricket on January 18 of this year. However, he participated in two Doha legends T20s in March. In the latter, he batted against an attack that comprised Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Amir, Abdur Razzak, Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi, and Abdul Razzaq, and scored 68 runs off of 59 balls.
By that time, he was in the dugout with the Mumbai Indians Cape Town as their batting coach, but the club was winless in the first SA20, losing seven of their ten games. And now, finally, a proper job. Lions coach Russell Domingo plans to use Hashim Amla as his primary batting option across all three forms. He will “add value in the women’s, academy, and U19 space,” Lions CEO Jono Leaf-Wright said on Thursday.
Based on their performance in the previous season, the Lions will likely direct most of their efforts at the first-class competition. Ryan Rickelton scored three hundreds in five innings, inspired by his perceived unfairness at being judged ineligible for South Africa due to an ankle ailment that didn’t prevent him from playing locally. However, the only other players to score a century for their side were Bjorn Fortuin, Wiaan Mulder, and Joshua Richards.
It would be interesting to see how Zubayr Hamza, a player from Western Province who played six Tests between January 2019 and February 2022, fares in his new role with the Lions. Hashim Amla will have shown his value if he is able to get Hamza back to the form that saw him smash 202 not out in only his fourth first-class innings, as well as two more double centuries and 11 just hundreds in 139 visits to the crease, during which he scored 5,647 runs at 46.28. If Amla can help Rassie van der Dussen, who has scored 50 or more in just two of his previous 17 innings for South Africa across all formats, both in the process of hitting hundreds in ODIs against England, he would get greater praise.
Improve Hamza’s performance, and bring back Van der Dussen. Reeza Hendricks should continue to aim for a regular spot in South Africa’s white-ball squads, while Temba Bavuma should remain steady. Assist Mulder in maintaining his confidence. Enhance Fortuin’s skills as a batter. Maintain the high quality work that Dominic Hendricks, Evan Jones, Mitch van Buuren, and Richards have established. Do this despite having little interaction with some of those players since they will be spending most of their time with the national team.
Only two days into her new employment, Hashim Amla already has a huge list of tasks that has to be completed. It’s tough enough to create unforgettable moments as a participant; it’s far more challenging to be relegated to a spectator’s seat after the fact. It’s a good thing he’s a cool, collected loner who can get along with everyone.