Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Hashim Amla stepped down as South Africa’s Test captain with immediate effect after the second Test against England in Cape Town.
It has been announced that Amla will hand over the reins to AB de Villiers, who will now lead the Proteas in the last two Tests against England in Johannesburg and Centurion.
Amla succeeded Graeme Smith as captain in early 2014 and led South Africa to victory in his first three series in charge, which came against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies. However, things began to go downhill from there, starting with a rain-affected one-off Test against Bangladesh that ended as a draw. This was followed by a 3-0 loss to India, which brought an end to the Proteas’ nine-year unbeaten streak away from home.
“This decision has not an easy one to make I felt I had to be true to myself. I am comfortable with my decision and I feel I need to work on my own game,” Amla said via a statement. “I was deeply honoured when the position was given to me. Throughout my time as captain, I have always had the support of my team-mates and coaching staff . I remain committed to the Proteas across all formats and I will fully support whoever is shown as my successor.”
Amla revealed that he had thought of resigning two weeks ago prior to the start of the England series.
“Captaining your country is probably the pinnacle,” he said. “Why I did it now, it just so happened I got 200 and it fitted nicely that the South African team did exceptionally well on the last day. It was coming for the last two weeks.
“I had chatted to a few of the guys in the team before this, so I don’t think it had come as a massive shock,” he added. “We have a very tight leadership team: myself, AB, Faf [du Plessis]. AB is very able and a brilliant leader and we will all follow similar goals. Whether I’m pulling the rope, or AB is pulling the rope or Dale [Steyn] is pulling the rope, as long as someone is going in the right direction, we all will go with him.”
Amla was reportedly reluctant to take over as captain once Smith retired in 2014, but the 32-year-old made it clear that he was not forced into taking a leadership role and added that he made the decision to stand down as Test captain on his own.
“It was always my decision,” he said. “In life I have learned that if you are going to do something, you’ve got to do something you enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed captaincy.
“When Graeme stepped down, it gave an opportunity for me to explore my captaincy. I thought at the time I could add value and I’d like to believe that I have added value. I am really surprised some people have suggested it was not my choice. You don’t look like me in this world without being firm on what you want to do.
“The decision has been purely based on that I think somebody else can do a better job. It was just something that crossed my mind and was working on my mind. My leadership style, and we have a very young team, maybe somebody else would have done a better job.”
Speaking about Amla’s decision to step down, Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “We respect Hashim’s decision and the manner in which he thought about it and then communicated with me. It was consistent with his well respected personality.
“He still has a huge role to play in shaping the success of our team without the need for a leadership title. He is just that type of a person and we are very fortunate to have him in our stable.
“I want to thank AB for readily accepting the challenge of rebuilding our Test team as we seek to remain the best team in the world.”
South Africa head coach Russell Domingo also paid tribute to Amla and lauded everything he accomplished during his tenure as skipper of the Proteas.
“I feel that there hasn’t been enough respect shown for what he has achieved as a player,” Domingo said. “People can say what they want to, [but] he is still averaging 45 as captain. He has gone to Zimbabwe, won a series there, gone to Sri Lanka and won a series there which no other captain has done. He won a series against West Indies. He has gone to India where a lot of captains have lost under tough conditions, and we’ve come here with six new players who have all played under 10 Test matches.
“He has sacrificed himself for the rest of the team which speak volumes for him, and people need to appreciate that type of character and it seems we sometimes undervalue that on the field. He has got a lot of experience, and expertise and advice that he can give, particularly the younger players in the side.”
Meanwhile, de Villiers admitted that being handed the reins in such a situation is not ideal, but added that he accepted to replace Amla as captain as it would fulfill his dream of captaining his country in the longest format of the game.
“I’ve said this before that it is an incredible honour to captain South Africa in any format,” he said. “The captaincy has obviously come at short notice and is the realisation of a lifelong dream.
“At the moment my priority and focus is placed on leading this team to what can be a memorable series win against England. This Test squad is motivated and determined to turn our performances around and I’m looking forward to taking up that challenge as captain. Hashim is a good friend and close colleague and I am grateful for his support.”