Cape Town – As if the second Test between South Africa and England hadn’t been enough of an emotional roller-coaster there would be one more event, with the crowds already departed after play was called off yesterday, that would tug the heart strings.
With the clean-up operation, after bad light resulted in a draw, already under way at Newlands in the aftermath, the press conference that followed was going to be interesting.
It always is when extra chairs are added to the table. What followed was the announcement that Hashim Amla would step down as South Africa’s Test captain with immediate effect, midway through the four Test series.
“The decision was not made over the last couple of days. It was made at least two weeks ago after giving it a lot of thought. Captaining your country is probably the pinnacle of anybody’s ambition. It fitted nicely that the South African team did so nicely on the final day,” he said when quizzed on his reasoning.
What made the decision seem that much stranger was that it came on the back of vastly improved showing from the team and with Amla scoring a double hundred, the fast time he’d gone past 200 runs in a Test, in the process.
Amla was also asked why the decision came now rather than before the series.
“It was quite a quick turnaround between India and the England series. I wasn’t quite ready at that stage. I hadn’t made my mind up,” the man who captained South Africa to four wins, four losses and six draws, said.
“The temptation was there but I always feel as a player if you’re not good enough then you don’t play and if I feel someone can add more value to the team as captain then why wait. Rather get them in as quick as possible and the team can win the next two games and keep improving.”
The role has been handed to AB de Villiers for the remainder of the series but Amla still feels that he has a positive role to play within a young squad.
“It’s a bit of relief,” he said of the fact that he now no longer has to concern himself with the issues that come with captaincy.
“Now maybe I’ll have more time to invest in the younger guys. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the team who need a bit of direction. Now that the focus in my mind is off the captaincy I can take them in a direction I’ve been very fortunate to go in myself,” he said.