Hashim’s honeymoon over

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The Sri Lankan triumph was a huge accomplishment in Amla’s first assignment, especially considering the Proteas had not won on the tea-growing island since the Brett Schultz-inspired victory back in 1993 and in fact had actually copped a few wallopings on recent visits there.

But the bearded skipper would be the first to admit that overcoming the likes of the eighth- and 10th-ranked teams since then would be viewed as routine for world’s No 1 Test outfit.

Amla’s challenges thus far have centred more on the evolution of his own team than focusing on the opposition after the retirements of Smith, Jacques Kallis and now also Alviro Petersen. Finding replacements for such “colossal figures” is of great importance to the longevity of the Proteas’ champion status in red-ball cricket and Amla views the upcoming tour to Bangladesh – ranked ninth – as a critical part of that process, especially now that he has four fresh faces in Reeza Hendricks, Dane Vilas, Kagiso Rabada and Aaron Phangiso joining last season’s debutants Stiaan van Zyl, Temba Bavuma and Simon Harmer in the Test squad.

“Bangladesh have done quite well over the last couple of months. Playing them in their conditions is a lot more challenging than perhaps at home. They obviously know their conditions very well. We have a really young and fresh team, so I think it’s going to be exciting for everyone,” Amla told the media in Johannesburg this week.

“I won’t say we completely settled. We are still trying to find the right winning combination.

“We had a good six Test matches last season. I think this season will be much more of a litmus test for us because we have two Tests in Bangladesh, four in India and four against England at home. This season will be a lot more challenging.

“I think so (a beginning of a new cycle). We have six, seven, eight players who have been playing together for a long time. But every cycle you add three or four players that will hopefully add to the team. It takes two or three seasons before you can say you have a settled team again. Losing Viri (Petersen) means someone has to come up. It is a great opportunity for someone to make a name for himself and be part of the Proteas family for a really long time.”

Amla was a core member of the Proteas World Cup squad that suffered the heartbreaking defeat to New Zealand in a pulsating semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland a few months ago. With the majority of that group also part of the Test squad, and having dedicated not only physical energy but also immense emotional intensity to that campaign, and then to suffer such a setback and the subsequent fallout regarding selection issues, is the Test skipper not worried his team might pick up the debris?

“Personally, from a Test perspective, I don’t think (the events at the World Cup) will have an impact. The senior guys are a mature lot, in many cases having been together for 10 years, and the game goes on. The disappointment lasts for about a week or a little bit afterwards. Some guys went to IPL. I went to England for a little bit.

“What is done is done! The more you talk about it, it's not going to change what happened. After every World Cup is like a refreshing start. I don’t think it will have any impact on how we move forward,” said a philosophical Amla.

Meanwhile, Faf du Plessis is walking around with a splint covering his injured right hand after the Proteas Twenty20 captain and Test No 3 hurt himself playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL semi-final. However, Du Plessis is confident that he will recover sufficiently over the next three weeks to be ready for next month’s Bangladesh tour.

*Cricket South Africa have extended the contract of head coach Russell Domingo by two years and appointed Charl Langeveldt as bowling coach.

Domingo’s contract was renewed to the end of April 2017, while Langeveldt replaced Allan Donald, who resigned following this year’s World Cup.

CSA has otherwise kept the same management team, with Adrian Birrell staying on as assistant coach and Claude Henderson retained as spin bowling coach.

Linda Zondi was appointed as the new convener of the national selection panel, replacing Andrew Hudson, who also resigned after the World Cup.

The other three independent selectors appointed to the selection panel were Hussein Manack, Errol Stewart and former Test batsman Ashwell Prince.

Domingo serves as the fifth member of the panel.

After the Bangladesh tour, the Proteas also have a trip to India (including four Tests) and they welcome England for four Tests at the end of the year.

Cape Argus

Hashim Amla knows his honeymoon period as the Proteas Test captain is well and truly over, says Zaahier Adams.

Original source: Hashim’s honeymoon over

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