Cape Town: Hashim Amla surprisingly quit as South Africa’s test captain on Wednesday in the middle of the four-Test series against England, hoping “someone else can add more value” as skipper. Amla said after the drawn second test at Newlands where he made a double century in a big return to form with the bat that he was stepping down immediately.
“I am comfortable in my decision knowing that I have given my best and will continue to do so,” Amla said after the match. He will remain available as a batsman for the remaining two Tests. AB de Villiers will replace Amla as captain for the remainder of the series, Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
Amla took over the captaincy from the long-serving Graeme Smith in 2014 in a popular decision considering his outstanding Test record as a batsman. However, he came under pressure after a lean run of recent results for the top-ranked team, and relative struggles with his own form. Amla oversaw series wins in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and a home victory versus West Indies, but South Africa’s recent 3-0 drubbing in India – the Proteas’ first series loss away from home since 2006 – left a lasting impact.
Following that, South Africa then lost by 241 runs to England in this series opener in Durban, where Amla was asked about the captaincy. He said then that he was still enjoying it. However, Amla conceded on Wednesday that he had been mulling over the decision to quit as far back as two weeks ago, before the series against England began.
He denied the fierce criticism in South Africa over the team’s apparent slump, and his own poor scores, influenced his move. He just felt a change was best for the team, he said. “You get to have a bit of a thick skin,” Amla said. Still, stepping down was “a little bit of a relief,” he said.
Amla’s decision was unexpected considering his 201 in South Africa’s fighting performance at Newlands. Amla’s first test hundred since December 2014 was at the heart of South Africa’s 627-7 declared, a defiant response after England scored 629-6 declared. By the end of the match, South Africa was on top and England was batting to save a draw.
Some of the criticism of the softly spoken Amla’s leadership style was the he wasn’t aggressive enough, a characteristic out of kilter with some recent Proteas captains, who favored an in-your-face kind of style.
“If you try and copy anybody, you’ll never be a success,” Amla said. “There are many forms of leaderships.”
Amla remains a batsman with an impressive record. His double century in Cape Town was his 24th Test century in 90 matches and his fourth test score over 200. He averages 51.13 in Test cricket.
“I honestly feel a lot of the criticism that Hashim has faced in the last couple of weeks is very harsh,” South Africa coach Russell Domingo said. “He is one of South Africa’s greatest players … there hasn’t been enough respect shown of his achievements as a player.”