Ottis Gibson says Hashim Amla felt desperate to burst the ‘T20 bubble’ so he could reset his mindset ahead of the World Cup, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The Amla debate is a tedious one. Should he be in the starting XI? Should Ottis pick his sides on form? Or does experience trump all doubts about his ability?
These questions will hang over Gibson’s head when choosing his best XI. Especially when it comes to selecting the 36-year-old, who has been far from his best for a good couple of months now.
His experience in England tipped the scale in his favour for World Cup selection. Amla is the most successful South African in the 50-over format on England soil. He has 851 runs and an impressive average of 56.73. This includes two centuries and four half-centuries. It has, however, been two years since he last played an ODI in England.
His Test record has him ranked third-highest South African run-scorer in England, with 11 games under his belt. He is one of four players to have passed the 10,000-run mark in England, and he did so with an average of 60.33. He also has fond memories of The Oval, where the Proteas will be playing their opening match. This was the ground where he scored his famous triple century (311*), the highest-ever Test score by a South African.
Amla’s recent form, however, has been terrible. He has scored just 164 runs in 12 matches across all formats.
Despite this, Gibson was unmoved by the enquiry about Amla’s state of mind.
‘Hash just wanted to get away from the T20 bubble where he felt you needed to hit every ball, ‘ said Gibson on Tuesday.
‘He felt that it was hampering his own preparation and mindset of playing in England. He has, of course, a very good record of playing in England, so he wanted to get back to working on his technical stuff.
‘He was working with Benky [Dale Benkenstein] with regard to conditions and facing the new ball in England. He has done it many times before. He knows what it’s all about and we felt that it was important to give him the space to do that.
‘There was no real drama from removing him from that T20 environment. Batsmen that try to score off every ball in England usually come up short, and we have seen Hash score huge amounts in England and he has his own way about going about it.’
Photo: Isuru Sameera Peiris/AFP/Gallo Images