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By Heinz Schenk


What on earth is bugging Hashim Amla?

The Proteas' bearded stalwart is showing concerning signs of impatience at the crease as his runs start to dry up.

Perhaps the scariest thing you can say about Hashim Amla at the moment is that for the past 18 months, he’s become a JP Duminy.

No-one’s doubting his ability but the runs aren’t coming consistently.

In fact, much like Duminy, the Proteas’ bearded stalwart has learnt the pesky habit of only making a big score just before the critics start questioning him.

Think last year’s hundred in his 100th Test against Sri Lanka, when there were rumours of him contemplating retirement.

Or two gritty fifties against England at Nottingham and a last gasp 83 in Manchester.

Or the 137 and 132 in the candy floss of a series against Bangladesh.

In between those scores, Amla has looked ragged.

He’s been dignified off the field as always but that serenity is missing when he’s batting.

And the stats back it up.

The 34-year-old veteran has played in 19 Tests since August 2016.

In those 33 innings, his batting average is 38.50 – almost 11 runs lower than his career average of 49.08.

He’s only made three centuries during this time and they can’t really be classified as significant ones as they’ve been made against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who were both demoralised on their tour to South Africa.

Take away those hundreds and Amla averages a lowly 29.60.

That’s not even good enough for a decent batsman at franchise level.

Amla has only twice made two Test scores of 50 or more in succession in the last 18 months.

The consistency is gone.

But while the stats do paint a part of the picture, it’s completed when the manner of some of his dismissals are considered.

Amla’s two failures in the first Test against India at Newlands is merely the latest examples of a man not at ease with himself and his environment.

Against a swinging ball on the first morning, he prods at a ball that moves away.

The worst is, despite the late movement, he could’ve left it on the original line even.

In the second dig, Amla slashes at a wide one without any foot movement.

His cause isn’t helped by the ball jagging back.

Where is the patience and that steely resolve to grit things out, even if it doesn’t look pretty?

This is no temporary hiccup.

2016 – Australia 

Amla is dismissed five times in a row by Josh Hazlewood, every time outside off-stump.

He’s so frazzled by the end of the tour that he weirdly reviews his last dismissal of the tour, even though the edge was blatantly obvious.

And this is a man known for walking before an umpire gives himself out…

2017 – New Zealand

At Dunedin, Amla tries to flick Neil Wagner to leg with a ball outside off.

He ends up chipping tamely to mid-wicket, it’s a poor and risky shot on a pitch that had variable bounce.

In Wellington, he gets a pie – a half-volley on his legs – but somehow plays too early and is caught.

2017 – England

Toby Roland-Jones tortures him in the latter stages of the series.

At the Oval, Amla decides to leave an awkward in-ducker close to off-stump but he’s way too late doing so.

The withdrawn bat ends up in an edge on the foot and into the slips.

Manchester provides another nightmarish sequence – Roland-Jones bowls a long hop down the leg, Amla shapes to flick what looks a certain boundary.

Bafflingly, he only gets an edge.

2017 – Zimbabwe

Chris Mpofu bowls one of the worst deliveries of his career.

It’s short and wide, a dolly to hit for four on the off-side.

But Amla doesn’t, he slaps it with an open face without a hint of thinking where to place it.

It’s a shocker, to say the least…



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