TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
Excitement and a man who doesn’t sweat don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. But even Hashim Amla felt his temperature rise with glee on Wednesday.
“Excited to be with Kings XI Punjab for the remainder of the IPL (Indian Premier League),” Hashim Amla posted on Twitter. “Looking forward to it. Thanks for the support peeps.”
The message was published at around 6am (SA time). By the afternoon it had been reposted 265 times and “liked” 805 times, doubtless by Kings XI fans as well as by those who have wondered why Amla has yet to feature on the T20 game’s biggest stage.
Even now, he has come in through the back door: Amla will replace the injured Shaun Marsh.
Indeed, it’s as if Amla and the IPL have maintained a mutual dislike, a shared distrust of what the other is about. Until now, that is.
Having ignored the first seven editions of the tournament, Amla put himself up for auction last year and this – and went unsold both times.
“It’s not money-driven,” his agent, Ismail Kajee, said at the time of Amla’s belated interest in being part of a phenomenon that has made millionaires out of far lesser players.
“I wouldn’t be a good agent if I told players there wasn’t money to be made from T20 cricket but in Hashim’s case it’s not money-driven.”
Just how much of that money Amla will make from playing in, at most, six league matches and perhaps the play-off stage is not known. But he won’t come cheap.
Amla is, after all, among only 32 out of the 969 players who have batted in T20 internationals to have scored 1000 runs at that level in the format. And he has had fewer innings than all but two of those 32.
He has a higher T20 international strike rate than Quinton de Kock, Jesse Ryder and Shakib Al Hasan, and is the 11th highest runscorer among the 251 men who have opened the innings. Only eight openers have hit more fours.
Not bad for a player with a supposedly crooked backlift who, if you believed the naysayers years ago, had no future in the game beyond first-class level – not even in limited overs stuff for his franchise.
The same man is fourth on the list of runscorers among current test players, and has reached 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 and 6000 runs in fewer innings than anyone in the history of one-day internationals.
Perhaps it wasn’t his backlift that was crooked as much as his modesty and seriousness in a game that, especially in SA, thrives on brashness and bravado.
And now the final frontier looms. Amla doesn’t need the IPL to confirm his class. Rather, it’s the other way around – the IPL should be honoured by his presence.
Doubtless, all who are involved with and interested in the tournament are as excited as he is. See them sweat.