I can’t be like Hashim Amla, says uncapped Zubayr Hamza on batting idol
Zubayr Hamza is being touted as a long-term replacement for Hashim Amla. © BCCI

He formed his game on his idol Hashim Amla, but the uncapped batsman Zubayr Hamza is under no pretensions that he can step into the shoes of the South Africa icon as he braces for a Test debut against Pakistan in the series starting today at SuperSport Park.

Having been named in a 13-man squad for the three-Test series against Pakistan earlier this month, the talented 23-year-old is hopeful of getting a look-in. Hamza had a breakthrough season with the Cape Cobras franchise last season, scoring 828 first-class runs at an average of 69.00. He also had a successful tour of India with South Africa A earlier this year.

“I grew up idolising Hashim Amla,” Hamza told Cricbuzz. “He has been a hero of mine for most of my life. Just to be spoken about in the same sentence as him is a great honour. I can only be Zubayr Hamza 1.0. I can’t go out and try and be like Hashim Amla. There will never be another player exactly like him. The way he scores runs, the way he hits the ball, his flourishing back-lift; he’s such a special player and human. If given the chance I will go out and be the best version of me that I can be.”

Amla, 35, has slipped from his previous high standards, scoring only 444 runs at an average of 23.36 since his last century, against Bangladesh in October 2017. The veteran has been confirmed for a return to No 3  for the Boxing Day Test versus Pakistan, and Hamza dismissed notions that Amla was on the way out.

Hashim Amla will return to the one-drop spot
Hashim Amla will return to the one-drop spot. © Getty

“I can tell you, Hash is not going anywhere and still has a lot to offer. Class is permanent and he is pure class,” he said. “I’m patient. I have time on my side. For now, I’m just happy to be a part of the squad and learn as much as I can.”

Hamza averages 49.29 in first-class cricket with 3648 runs in 52 matches so far. However, the Cape Town-born batsman hasn’t been in the best of form during the ongoing first-class season, averaging just over 36 in 11 innings. He credited his franchise coach Ashwell Prince, who played 66 Tests for South Africa scoring 3665 runs at an average of 41.64, for shaping him into a potential Test batsman.

“Ashwell has instilled the same values in me that made him so successful,” Hamza said. “His attitude and work ethic are both inspiring. He’ll admit that he was never the most gifted but his record shows that he got the most of what he had. His mental strength is just incredible.”

Should he get the nod during the series against Pakistan, Hamza will become the 100th post-isolation South African Test cricketer. That is not on his mind, however. “I try not to focus on those sorts of things,” he said. “The number on my cap won’t be important. All that will matter is the badge on the front.”