Thursday, 30 April 2020 marks exactly 14 years since former Proteas batsman Hashim Amla welcomed a maiden Test century.
The first six innings of Amla’s Test career had yielded a mere 62 runs. He proved particularly disappointing against India in Kolkata and England in Durban in 2004 before capitalising against New Zealand in Cape Town in 2004 after replacing the ‘mentally tired’ Herschelle Gibbs.
The Proteas’ second Test in late April 2006 against New Zealand at New Zealand ended in a draw, but was marked by centuries from Amla and teammate Ashwell Prince, another from New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin – and a double ton from visiting captain Stephen Fleming.
The steely Amla spent almost seven hours at the crease, striking 149 from 317 deliveries, with 20 fours included. The milestone also included his 1,000th run in first-class cricket.
‘It was quite a relief. I felt that I was under quite a lot of pressure and I was fortunate to have Boeta Dippenaar there, and then later, Jacques Kallis. He’s a fantastic influence at the crease, very calm and collected, and he helped me through some tough patches,’ reflected Amla.
‘I was disappointed to go out on 149 – no one wants to go out on 149. But I was happy with my first century. I hope it will be a long Test career, and maybe if I can score 50 centuries in my career, no one will question my technique.’
Amla went on to strike 27 more Test centuries before retiring in 2019. That 149 finished as his eight-highest Test score and fourth largest at home. The 311 not out against England at The Oval in London in 2012, of course, was his biggest away from home.
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