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Fri Jul 01 17:15:23 SAST 2016

Will Amla fall on his sword and surrender his captaincy?

Mark Smit | 05 January, 2016 08:01
Amla's tactical approach at times has, in part, been blamed for South Africa’s ungainly tumble from the top of the heap since the retirement of Graeme Smith. File photo
Image by: MONEY SHARMA / AFP

The burning question now, is whether Hashim Amla will fall on his sword and surrender his captaincy after the second cricket Test against England ends at Newlands on Wednesday --- given that it is now highly unlikely South Africa will win the game.

He might, being the ethical, decent and humble man that he is. But it would be enormously unfair and cruel should he feel obliged to do so given that he never wanted the job in the first place.

Amla, probably the second-most popular cricketer in this country, after AB de Villiers, was forced to ascend to the captaincy when Graeme Smith retired. He was forced by radical zealots at Cricket SA, who are still fighting the struggle, 20 years after it has been won. He took it because those elements ordained that it was time South Africa had a captain who was not white.

As I’ve said, he did not want the captaincy; it was common cause at the time. He had told some that he just wanted to concentrate on  batting and doing his best for his team.  But, out of a sense of duty and patriotism, he took it and the distasteful consequence of that reluctant decision,  is that he is being sacrificed on the altar of cynical political expediency by those still bent on driving South African sport into the mud with their political agendas.

First, his batting form deserted him. Now, to add insult to injury, his captaincy in this series against England, is being called into question – even criticised -- ever more stridently by respected pundits and former Test captains from this country and from England.

His tactical approach at times has, in part, been  blamed for South Africa’s ungainly tumble from the top of the heap since the retirement of Graeme Smith.

As part of an illustrious commentary team covering this series Smith, to his eternal credit, has tried to remain as sympathetic and tactful as possible, and refrain from direct criticism of Amla. But even  has been puzzled enough at times to question the lack of a coherent game plan, and missed opportunities. Former England captain Mike Atherton has cloaked his criticism in sympathy and elegant tact, more in the manner of an Oxford gentleman than the Cambridge graduate he is. But there is no prize for predicting that disappointed local cricket-lovers will soon be taking up the cudgels and laying into Amla in much less tactful language.

What kind of cruel circumstance is this? A man who surrendered to intense and unfair pressure, first suffered a loss of form, and now finds himself incurring  the wrath of one and all for his captaincy choices.

It has been simply diabolically cruel, even evil, to subject such a kind, dignified and morally upright man to such an indignity. It has been disgusting  and vile of those zealots to hang him out to dry in such a fashion.

But will they, who skulk unseen in the murky corridors of Cricket SA, own up to their roles in this travesty? And will they swear never to do this kind of thing again?

Not on your life. You can bet your last, threatened Rand on it. 

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