Wednesday, 29 August 2012

More on Amla

Lower league cricketers like Fantasy Bob have experienced the phenomenon many times.  The cricketer from a higher grade who turns out in a lower team and effectively ruins the game by a  prodigious display of batting or bowling beyond the skills of the 21 other players on the field.

With Carlton's Grange Loan being one of the finest wickets in Scotland Fantasy Bob has got used to top team batsmen from opposing clubs who note that their 3rd or 4th XI is destined for the hallowed ground in couple of weeks.  They find themselves injured,  unable to play and as the Grange Loan fixture approaches they suggest to their skipper, quietly but firmly,  'Not sure about the leg, skip, better not risk me in the ones.  But I could test things out with the Fourths.'

They will duly turn up at Grange Loan and on a fine batting track take a century off the assorted infants and geriatrics who have assembled under FB's leadership.  The majority of those runs will in all probability be taken from FB himself.  To add insult to injury, while the star player will not bowl he will stand at slip and with unnatural athleticism will pouch one of those delicately glided edges with which FB garners the majority of his runs.  Never will the cold beer after the match be sweeter consolation to FB than on these occasions.

This is the feeling that England bowlers now have when they see Hashim Amla line up against him.  'Surely,' they say, 'he should be playing for the ones today,' forgetting that they are, for these purposes, the ones themselves.  Right ones in fact.

Amla seems to have reached another level. FB can only stand back and gasp in admiration. In the course of  his 150 in yesterday's ODI he became the fastest ever player to 3000 ODI runs. But he didn't just break the record he smashed it to smithereens.  It took him 57 innings.  The previous record was held by Viv Richards who took 69 innings - no slouch.  The fastest English player to this mark was Graham Gooch who took 76 Tests, closely followed by he who can't be named who took 78.

It is also worth noting that in this match  AB deVilliers became the 4th fastest to 5000 ODI runs which has taken him 124 innings - but he is speeding up for he took a leisurely 88 innings to get to 3000 runs.  Amla is speeding up to - he took 40 innings to get 2000 runs.  By contrast Viv Richards slowed down - he took another 45 innings to get from 3000 to 5000 ODI runs, eventually crawling  to 6721 off 162 innings.  Only one English player has topped 5000 - Paul Collingwood with 5092 in 181 innings.  The batsman who cannot be named was on course to top this, with 4184 from 116 until recent events.  It is hard to see Morgan, Bopara or Kieswetter getting anywhere near that.  But one of them needs to.

In the meantime, England have to worry about Amla again on Friday when they return to the Oval.  On Amla's last visit there he scored 311.  FB understands that a letter to the league secretary complaining about higher grade players being played against lower league teams is being drafted by Andy Flower.

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