Time running out for Hashim Amla ahead of World Cup opener against England
Hashim Amla's attempt to force his way into the Proteas starting line-up for the Cricket World Cup opening match against England could decided by the two warm-up matches against Sri Lanka and the West Indies this week.
South Africa starts the tournament against England at the Oval on May 30 but they finalise preparations against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Friday and West Indies in Bristol on Sunday.
Amla has struggled for runs over the past few months and captain Faf du Plessis said the long-time top order batting mainstay must earn his place in the team like all the players.
“He has not scored enough runs that he would have liked recently but he is also an experienced campaigner and that’s why he withdrew himself from the domestic T20 competition because that was not the sort of preparation he wanted‚” he said.
“He’s been working extremely hard with batting coach Dale Benkenstein‚ hitting a lot of balls and getting in the right frame of mind which he needs to be in.
"For all of us‚ it is about understanding where you are mentally.
"I reference myself and some of the players who played in the IPL which was a long tournament.
"For me the key was to get myself fresh again after the IPL and get the tank nice and full.
“For me‚ I didn’t train as hard as I can for the last three days because there is still some time before the first game in England and I have played enough cricket to understand that.”
Du Plessis added that Amla remains an important member of the squad because of his vast experience at international tournaments and his familiarity with English conditions.
“Hopefully we will go into those warm-up games and go bang‚ bang so that we smile‚" he said.
"He is an experienced player who is important to our squad and that is one of the key reasons he was picked.
"You cannot substitute experience.
“He has been to tournaments‚ he understands what is like to play on that stage which is important to have.
"He is calm‚ composed and even if he doesn’t play a game the knowledge and the experience that he will share with a player like Aiden Markram is going to be massive.
"He will talk him though processes of how to get through those first ten overs on English conditions because he has played a lot of county cricket there‚ his experience is vital for us as a group.”