Hashim Amla © Getty Images
Hashim Amla © Getty Images

 

By Faisal Caesar

 

Dean Jones called him a terrorist while sitting in the commentary box during a 2006 Test against Sri Lanka. Jones’s brand of humor – for which he got the sack – was possibly because of his target’s flowing beard and his religion.

 

Suffering oppositions would like to believe that Hashim Amla is a terrorist – but with the bat! The South Africa is a sublime artist. His batting has the flavor of an Iranian beauty, the calmness of the Arabian Desert and the patience of a saint. Amla is today rightfully acclaimed among cricket’s finest willow artists.

 

There is grace in whatever Amla does – be it even merely blocking the ball or leaving it alone! He is a sight for sore eyes. In an era when corruptions of fast-paced cricket have infiltrated batting, Amla’s batsmanship is one for the purists. One can go miles to watch the connoisseur’s delight play with wristy elegance and produce that magical sound of ball hitting the sweet spot of the bat.

 

He rekindles the romance of a bygone era with his silken touch… be it those delightful flicks, wristy wafts through the off, drives bisecting the ‘V’ or the heaves to midwicket. Amla’s knock of 253 against India at Nagpur last year was incredibly disciplined. There were hardly any aerial shots. The track was spitting venom, with Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra looking menacing cobras. But Hamla was more than equal to the challenge by turning into a snake charmer!

 

Then, at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in the second Test, blew everybody’s mind with the patience of a monk. He refused to be intimidated by the irritating crowd or the teasing off-spinners of Harbhajan Singh. He was the last man standing for the Proteas for 500 vigilant minutes. And yet he wasn’t affected by any cramps, fatigue or spasms which most of non-subcontinent batsmen faces while touring India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But Amla remained focused and smiling right through.

 

He dedicated his triumph over fatigue to the fasting that Muslims do during the holy month of Ramadan. It wan indication of his faith in his religion. The discipline inculcated by his religion was now being translated on the field of play.

 

His winning the CSA Cricketer of the Year Award is an achievement which he so thoroughly deserves, but surprisingly he was not chosen for the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year. Many were bemused but Amla was the cricket lovers Test cricketer of the year 2009. And his bat still is producing the goods for the South Africa.

 

Jacques Kallis will leave sooner than later, but the Proteas batting is in safe hands. Amla is a high quality player in both forms of the game and the Proteas batting will revolve around him.

 

In an era when Muslims are being hated and being negatively painted as terrorists, Amla has been a positive endorsement. Yes, Amla is slowly becoming the Islamic icon in world cricket.

 

(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)