Zubayr Hamza on verge of making history with Proteas call up
Current and past Proteas players have received call-ups in the weirdest of places.
New kid on the block Zubayr Hamza was where he was supposed to be, on a cricket field, but a different one to most.
He was at the University Sports SA Week in Stellenbosch where he represented the University of the Western Cape.
The 23-year-old Hamza made two 50s to propel UWC to the tournament final.
They lost to the University of Pretoria but disappointment was the least of his concerns.
"One of the 50s I scored in the tournament was on the day when I received the call-up and the next one was a day after. However, I was all about making sure that I still delivered in the middle. I haven't been involved in the Mzansi Super League and I've been keeping myself busy. The call-up didn't affect what I've been trying to achieve from the week," Hamza said.
"The call-up though was a crazy moment and I had a lot of emotions. There was a bit of joy, a bit of nervousness but I was very happy and it was a proud moment for me."
Should Hamza make his Test debut in the three-match series against Pakistan starting on Boxing Day at SuperSport Park, he won't only become Rondebosch Boys High school fourth Test cricketer since readmission, but SA's 100th since the ground-breaking April 1992 Test against the West Indies at Bridgetown's Kensington Oval.
Rondebosch's other Test players - Gary Kirsten, John Commins and HD Ackermann - all had remarkable first-class careers.
Hamza wasn't born when all three top-order batsmen were Western Province teammates but certainly has the first-class runs to back up his selection claims.
In 51 matches since his debut in 2014 he has scored 3,574 runs at an average of 48.95 with nine tons and 22 50s.
While his first-class returns have been modest this season with 255 runs at 31.87, last season he tallied 828 runs at 69 with three hundreds and four 50s.
He was nominated as one of Franchise Four-Day Series players of the season but Warriors spinner Simon Harmer beat him to the mark.
Those first-class runs saw Hamza make his SA A debut against Australia this year.
Hamza said it was in that game in Benoni where he truly felt he could make the step up.
In that SA A game where Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon lined him up, he made 44 and 28.
"That was my first SA A game and for me, it was about understanding and experiencing as much as I can in that one game. I didn't quantify what I wanted to do or achieve, but it was more about whether I could deal with their bowling attack at that level. I drew quite a lot of confidence from that experience," Hamza said.
Hamza made his mark in this year's SA A tour to India where he made 156 runs in three four-day innings.
Hamza said that tour was part of his fact-finding journey about his batting and how it'll continue throughout his career.
"That's something I've been thinking about for a while but I also asked myself whether I could perform at a higher level than what I'm currently playing at. Having played a couple of seasons of franchise cricket, when I went to India, I tried to stay relaxed and true to myself. There were a few minor mental changes so that I could elevate myself to that level of the game but I also needed to experience and take in all that I could in India," Hamza said...
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