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Cricket | South Africa

Hashim Amla © Reuters

A man called Hash

One word which is bordering on over-use when it comes to describing Hashim Amla, both as a man and one of the leading batsmen - if not the leading batsman - in world cricket, is 'serene'.

Serene when facing the world's best bowlers from 20 metres. Serene when thrust in front of an eager press, desperate to uncover some hidden pearl of wisdom after yet another astonishing innings.

In the post-match interviews on Monday at the Waca after South Africa wrapped up a 309-run win to clinch their second consecutive series win in Australia, they were unlikely to find any such gem - just the same wristy dexterity displayed on the field, this time translated to the pressroom, from the man they simply call 'Hash'.

It's hard to argue with the term, however, as when pressed, Amla displays a wonderful simplicity and clarity of thinking - a serenity if you will, in his approach.

Did he feel at any stage that he was going too hard in his remarkable knock of 196 on days two and three?

'It's always a fear, that you could go too hard, get out and then suddenly the team is in trouble," was the honest reply.

"I guess its did take a bit of courage, but at that stage, Graeme (Smith) and I decided that this is the moment and we're going to just go as hard for as long as we can, and things worked out."

Smith himself revealed a little more, adding that Amla, "has that ability - he had that glint in his eye and it was just great to be a part of."

Was jumping across his stumps and playing perfectly respectable balls on off-stump through midwicket a deliberate ploy to rattle the bowlers?

Another nimble piece of verbal wrist-work from Amla had the room in stitches when he replied: " Yeah - look, I do it once in a while, but Graeme does it nearly every ball.. so I was really taking a leaf out of his book in that session."

He did admit to some level of manipulation, however, when he conceded, "I tried to improvise with some one-day shots, it does sometimes put the bowler off - he might wonder where to bowl the next ball, and if you just stand still, he might give you some width to cut the ball to backward point or something."

This year has been a remarkable one for this most supremely gifted of batsmen, and Hash is never short of praise for his teammates or the support staff - as was the case at yet another man-of-the-match presentation.

"It helps when you play with such a great bunch of guys, and have a fantastic support staff."

When pressed for highlights in a year in which he achieved his and South Africa's highest test score, 311 not out against England at the Oval in July, and basked in the joy of a second consecutive series win against Australia in Australia, Hash revealed a 'team-first' philosophy above all else.

"The way this team has played our cricket has been inspiring for me - the bowlers have pulled us out of situations when the game has been on a knife-edge."

Perhaps the most telling comment was delivered in answer to a question on goals during an innings - does he ever set any personal milestones when pacing an innings? The short answer was, no.

"I don't set any goals, I like to keep my options open and adapt to the situation as I'm batting - its working out for now."

With 1 064 test runs in 2012 alone at an average of 70.93 and with a record high score of 311 not out, it would seem that whatever Hash's methods may be, they are indeed "working out for now" - and very obviously, for the number-one-ranked test team in the world, South Africa.


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