South Africa’s Hashim Amla has just recently been ruled out of the upcoming tour of Australia featuring three ODI’s and a one-off T20 International. The Proteas veteran picked up a torn finger tendon injury during this year’s Caribbean Premiere League which also ruled him out of the more recent ODI & T20I series against Zimbabwe.
Injuries to both Hashim Amla and captain Faf du Plessis kept the pair sidelined as South Africa hosted Zimbabwe in a handful of ODI’s and T20I’s, although their absence didn’t seem to be an issue as the Proteas prevailed undefeated at the conclusion of the fixture. Playing a team like Zimbabwe on home soil is nothing compared to traveling down under to compete against Australia though, that’s where the loss of Hashim Amla may really take its toll. The 35-year-old is a huge withdrawal from the side, but at the same time South Africa will be playing an Australian outfit without the likes of David Warner and Steve Smith who’ve been a nightmare to come up against in the past. Despite those two big losses, Australia is still one of the most difficult places to play in the world today with each & every pitch differing from one another, not to mention the stupendous support from the home crowd.
The decision to exclude Amla from the tour of Australia was definitely the right one according to coach Ottis Gibson who suggested that the Proteas batsman needed as much time as possible to fully recover from the injury before playing again. Making his ODI debut for South Africa in 2013, promising-youngster Quinton de Kock gradually worked his way to the top of the order after the retirement of Graeme Smith which then saw him form a formidable partnership with Hashim Amla in ODI cricket. The 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has made a tremendous start to his International career with 13 centuries and 17 fifties from 95 matches, at one point he looked set to become the world’s best one-day batsman.
A surprising stat in Hashim Amla’s ODI career is that out of a total of 169 matches and 26 centuries, the classy right-hander has only scored a single century from 23 innings against Australia. That stat may not seem strange in itself, but if you take a look at all the teams Amla has played in his ODI career, Australia is one of his least favourite teams to play against. With an average of just 33.28 from 23 matches, he’s almost 17 runs below his career average of 49.65. What’s even more fascinating is that Amla’s average is higher in Australia (39.44) than it is on his home turf in South Africa (22.42) which gives you a good indication of how good the batting conditions are down under when it comes to limited-overs cricket.
Now seen as a marquee player around the world in T20 competitions, Amla’s most recent stint for the Barbados Tridents in the CPL wasn’t a memorable one, and on top of that he picked up a serious finger injury which prematurely ended his campaign in the Caribbean. It wouldn’t have fussed the Proteas selectors though, they have a relatively good understanding of what Amla’s preferred format is, twenty20 cricket is probably the least accustomed to his game. With the 2019 ICC World Cup just around the corner, Amla’s goal will be to put that troublesome finger injury behind him and look to make his return against Pakistan at home in either the test or ODI series depending on how quickly South Africa want to bring him back.