As the whole of India frets and fumes over the disappointment of failing to guard the “Final Frontiers” of the Aussies, there is a small Indian community in Durban which is rejoicing over the selection of their son of Indian decent, Hashim Mohamed Amla for the South African team on its upcoming tour to India. With the South African team reaching the depth of failure after its dismal recent performances, the selectors have turned to the youth in an attempt to resolve the future of South African cricket. And Hashim one can say is a beneficiary of such a youth oriented direction the Proteas are taking. His selection is a great tribute to the growing influence of Asians (people of Indian origin) in South African cricket.
Cricket was always in his family, and with a rich vein of Indian blood flowing within him, cricket soon became his passion. Just two seasons after his elder brother Ahmed Amla made his debut for Kwazulu-Natal (now Dolphins), Hashim followed suit. He made his debut against the visiting England XI for Kwazulu-Natal at Durban at the age of 18. His debut could well be a forgettable one as he just made a single run in his short stay on the crease and it seemed as though his career at Natal will be short-stayed. He but played in the Durban & Districts league and for South Africa Under-19s and scored heavily for his club for 2 successive years before making a comeback of sorts into the Natal team. And since the he has never looked back. He recorded an aggregate of 816 runs in his comeback season at a good average of 51.The 2001/02 season gave his career a perfect jumpstart, which was one of the reasons as to where he is today. Hashim’s consistent and prolific run scoring in the seasons to follow was good enough to book him a spot in the South Africa A line up, which played Zimbabwe in2003/04 and later New Zealand A at home. He is in phenomenal form this season with an unfinished aggregate of 641 runs in 6 games with centuries against New Zealand A and the provincial teams. One gets a feeling that the fans of South African cricket will expect Hashim to carry this prolific scoring and consistency on his cricket kit-bag to India for the upcoming tour.
Just as Michael Clarke of Australia is being talked as a future captaincy material by the pundits, the 22-year old is being regarded as a future captain of South Africa. There have been certain steps taken in the very direction to enable him take over the future leadership reins and thus he was named the captain of the Kwazulu Natal Dolphins for this season. He has also captained the South African Under-19 team and the Under-21 provincial teams in the past. His fellow Durbanites of Indian origin like Rivash Gobind, Imraan Khan have already made names for themselves this season and are being talked about being Test materials for South Africa in the days and years to come. Besides being a religious cricketer, Hashim also comes across as a devout Muslim. His long beard may well remind us of Saeed Anwar, but for him its been the secret of his success. If reports are to be believed, Hashim would not be sporting the alcohol logo (Castle Lager) on his cricketing gear, and this is for sure a testament to the fact that religion comes first for him.
Although the quota system in South Africa is at place, where players of colour could easily book themselves a place in the national team, the quota system made sure that it overlooked the performances of the players of Indian origin. The selection of Hashim Amla, whose grandparents apparently once hailed form Surat in Gujarat, should be a major victory in a way for the Indian community in South Africa as they have been finally recognized while selection for the South African team. If all goes well, Hashim should make his Test debut for South Africa in and against a country where he originally hails from and we as Indians will be looking forward to seeing this youngster play to the best of his abilities.