Inexperienced Amla prepares to lead Proteas
Hashim Amla hopes to make the grade as he steps up to lead South Africa against Australia in a format in which he has hardly played any international matches.
With new skipper AB de Villiers breaking his hand ahead of his first assignment in charge, Amla will captain the Proteas in two T20 matches against Australia this week, starting with a clash in Cape Town on Thursday.
“In the T20 there is obviously going to be more intensity and one has less time to have a look [at the conditions] and in that respect I certainly want to apply myself along those lines,” Amla said on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old has played only three T20 internationals, but as the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world, he believes the transition will be simple enough.
“The similar basics that exist in 50-over cricket exist in 20-over cricket, but in a shortened version,” he said.
“To find that rhythm in the T20 is going to be crucial for the team and for when I bat, but I want to use this opportunity to find that rhythm.”
He has not captained any team since leading the Dolphins six years ago, but Amla said the presence of new coach Gary Kirsten had lightened the burden.
“Gary is extremely well organised. The plans he has in place and the structures he’s organised has taken a lot of pressure off the guys,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate to concentrate on my batting and a few other things around the captaincy role.
“It’s been a natural step rather than me making it an obvious step.”
The Proteas have included some fresh faces in their T20 squad, and Amla said he had approached the inexperienced players with some words of advice.
“In the team environment, especially in the T20 team, there are a lot of youngsters who have done well in the domestic league,” he said.
“I have just tried to apply myself and say a few words here and there.
“Certainly, I have tried to project my ideas as a captain to the team and it has not been an obvious, concerted effort.
“It’s just been pretty natural that when you have this position that a different side of you comes out.”
The Australians will also be fielding a few unfamiliar faces.
One of them, 18-year-old fast bowler Patrick Cummins, has already captured the imagination of the cricketing world after his exploits for New South Wales in the recent Champions League T20 competition in India.
Amla said Cummins’ performance in the cross-continental domestic tournament had been scrutinised, but they were not sure what to expect when he made the step up to international level.
“We’ve seen him play in the Champions League and that has given us a chance to have a look at him,” he said.
“He’s a decent bowler but the competition is a bit different at international level.”
The new players in both squads, Amla believed, would add an extra dimension to the two-match T20 series.
“It will add to the competition, having new guys on the block,” he said.
“There will always be an element of uncertainty if you haven’t seen a lot of the guys, but whatever footage we do have will help us prepare as best as we can.”