After turning around his form, Hashim Amla believes he still has plenty of cricket left in him.
Speaking to the media in Durban ahead of the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, the Proteas opener was full of superlatives for the way his side has gone about their work in recent months, as they keep one eye on the Champions Trophy in June.
After thrashing Australia 5-0 in October last year and beating the Sri Lankans by eight wickets in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, the Proteas are aiming for a seventh win in a row in this format, and Amla says the side are wary of continuing to suss out and perform against their opponents, who they face in the group stages of the global event in England.
‘If you look at the build up to this stage, winning the last series as convincingly as we did and being 1-0 up now bodes very well,’ said Amla. ‘The coaches and captains have put the structures in place to succeed and it’s great to see it’s working so well.
‘Nobody is under the illusion that everything is going to be hunky dory all the time; we’re going to go through challenges leading up to the Champions Trophy and we have to be patient,’ he continued. ‘But at the moment we’re playing really well and the team is very settled and we just want to take it one game at a time.
‘We play against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy too so this series gives us a sense of what to expect then. But we can’t look too far ahead; we don’t know what the wicket is going to look like tomorrow and they will be eager to bounce back.’
After going through a concerning stretch of form that saw him go without a Test fifty in 10 Test innings, Amla responded emphatically and poetically, scoring 134 in his 100th Test in the third Test against Sri Lanka earlier in the month. Then, without a fifty in five ODI innings, he looked back to his free-flowing best at St George’s Park with 57.
The 33-year-old couldn’t put it down to anything other than just being patient, and hopes this is the start of a long stretch of form in a career he believes he can prolong indefinitely.
‘I haven’t changed anything, that’s just how it goes’ he admitted. ‘You go through lean patches and just hope it continues.
‘What’s next? I take it as it comes. I try not to plan too far ahead. Whether it’s 50 Test matches or 100 matches, playing international cricket is what motivates me. I feel fresh. I still feel 18!’
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images