I use the IPL period to rest and spend time with my family: Hashim Amla

Apart from skipping the Indian Premier League, Hashim Amla also did not feature in any T20 international in 2013  © Getty Images

Hashim Amla is currently the premier batsman in world cricket, ranked No 1 in both One-Day Internationals and Test cricket. However, it’s not just his runs that have won over fans, his languid style and professional attitude has earned him the respect of cricket fans around the world. Matching style and substance is often a difficult balance for a batsman, but Amla’s average of 52 in Test cricket, including 27 half-centuries and 19 centuries from 70 matches, and a phenomenal average of 57 in ODIs with a strike rate of 91 shows a happy medium can be found with hard work and discipline. 

Yet Amla, does not figure in the world’s biggest T20 league — the Indian Premier League. Amla tells PakPassion’s Saj Sadiq that’s because he uses the time to rest and spend time with family as the international cricket calendar is quite taxing on the players.

Excerpts from an interview:

PakPassion (PP): Who were your role models and inspirations in your formative years?

Hashim Amla (HA): I wouldn’t really say that I had any role models on the cricket field. The players that I liked watching when I was younger were Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. They both are contrasting players, but successful in what they did.

PP: Which individual has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

HA: My father. He sacrificed much of his time and effort in taking me to practice, matches and any other cricket commitments that would come up. My parents and entire family’s support in and out of the game is something I could never repay. My father also never put any pressure on me to perform and instead allowed me to just play cricket and enjoy myself.

PP: Your temperament is always praised by your team-mates, opponents, fans and media. How do you manage to stay so focused, calm and collected?

HA: I am very fortunate and grateful to have my family and some close friends who are a means of support for me. I feel that cricket is ephemeral by its nature, so there’s no point in getting too worked up about things.

PP: How do you prepare for a major international cricket match? Do you have a set routine that you stick with?

HA: I try and do my preparation a few days in advance. Net sessions, physical training etc. The day and night before a game I usually take things easy and try and be as relaxed as possible ahead of the match. 

PP: What was it like making your Test debut in the cauldron of Eden Gardens?

HA: It was quite exciting and naturally; I had a few nerves. The noise was immense and I could barely hear my team-mates, even if they were standing 15 metres away. We didn’t win the match, but it was a brilliant experience just to be playing with and against such wonderful cricketers.

PP: What would you say to all the Muslims around the world who see you as a role model? Are you honoured or would you prefer that part of your life be kept separate from your cricket career?

HA: Every person is seen as a role model to someone else, whether they are aware of it or not. A father to his son, an elder sibling to a younger one, a teacher to a student. The list is endless. Sportsmen are the same; normal people, but with more public attention. I try not to think too much of it and just live my life and play the game as best I can. If there is some positive then arises from it then I am grateful.

PP: What was your impression of the Pakistan team on their recent tour of South Africa and in which areas do you think they can improve in?

HA: The Test series was difficult for them as our bowlers, who form the best bowling attack in the world at the moment, really exploited the home conditions well. We probably had the most difficult pitches to bat on anyway, so that made it even more challenging for them and for us. The One-Day Internationals were closely contested; thankfully for us AB de Villiers had an outstanding series and almost single-handedly won it.

PP: Your thoughts on the upcoming departure of head coach Gary Kirsten?

HA: I am not surprised, because as a fellow sportsman I understand the difficulties with the crazy amount of days that we travel away from home. He played international cricket for 10 years or so as well as coaching for a few more, so for him to dedicate more time to his family makes a lot of sense.

PP: Was stepping down from the South African One-Day International vice-captaincy a difficult decision to make?

HA: Not really. I still contribute my thoughts and ideas to the captain on and off the field.

PP: You’ve asked not to play any T20I cricket in 2013. Do you envisage that decision may change for 2014?

HA: It may change. I’m not someone who plans too far ahead, so as the months go by I will re-assess how I feel and then decide.

PP: With so many of your team mates playing in Twenty20 leagues around the world, is that something that appeals to you also?

HA: The one league that most are involved in is the Indian Premier League (IPL) and that comes at the conclusion of our international season. At the moment I find it a good gap to rest and spend time with my family and catch up with all the things I put on hold during the season. The international calendar is quite tiring, so I have decided to see how I feel towards the end of each season before I make myself available for the Indian Premier League or any other Twenty20 competitions around the world.

PP: South Africa will be without Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis for the upcoming Champions Trophy; do you think the team can overcome the loss of two such experienced players?

HA: Those two will be missed but it also gives a wonderful opportunity to others in the squad. It is a good test for us and hopefully we can put in a great performance for the country at the Champions Trophy.

PP: Your views on the relentless run machine that is AB de Villiers?

HA: He is an amazing player and currently the world’s best batsman. Thankfully we have him playing for us and not against us. 

PP: Who do you see as the main threats to South Africa in the Champions Trophy, and the teams to look out for?

HA: Well, it’s more like…who is not a threat! There are no easy games in the Champions Trophy and every team has a realistic chance of winning, which is what makes it so exciting.

PP: Your brother Ahmed went to Bahrain and coached youngsters. Is coaching something that you would like to get involved with once your playing days are over?

HA: Coaching is an option; even consulting may be an option. I would definitely like to pass my experience on to others when I am done with playing cricket.

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net, from where the above article has been reproduced. He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion)