Hashim Amla falls cheaply against Reece Topley in a defeat against England © Getty Images
Hashim Amla remains adamant that, despite South Africa’s failure to progress to the World T20 semi-finals, their much-vaunted senior players will refocus on the 2017 Champions Trophy in England in an attempt to add a limited-overs medal to their cricketing CVs.
Ahead of South Africa’s dead-rubber against Sri Lanka on Monday, Amla insisted that he will join AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Imran Tahir in proving that they still have the capacity to succeed in major international tournaments.
“A lot of us are extremely keen to keep playing international cricket,” Amla said. “It’s something we’ve enjoyed. A lot of us feel like we’ve got a few more years left in us.
“It would be great if we can make it to the next 50-over World Cup – that would be ideal. But first we’ve got a Champions Trophy next year. As long as you are fit and healthy and scoring runs and you warrant your place in the team then hopefully you can make it.”
Although there has not been yet been much dissection of South Africa’s exit – perhaps because they still have a game to play – one of the inevitable questions will be about the future of some the squad.
De Villiers, for example, has been outspoken about managing his workload. Considering his roles as captain in both Test and ODI cricket and a packed schedule of T20 leagues including the IPL and CPL in 2016, leaving international T20s behind may be an option.
The same can be asked of Dale Steyn, who spent all but two days of the summer injured and was carefully brought back for this tournament but then only played one match. But Amla dismissed ideas that either of them is considering phasing themselves out.
“The whole rumour of AB retiring was before I gave up the Test captaincy and I think it was just that: a rumour,” he said. “There are no issues whatsoever. Everyone is really passionate and desirous of doing well. We’re just hoping we can play good cricket and at the next ICC event have a better performance.”
Steyn only played South Africa’s opener against England before South Africa opted for the pace-off-the-ball bowling of David Wiese, even at the Wankhede where the quicker bowlers had more in their favour.
Amla defended Steyn’s non-selection as a logical thought process. “Before coming to this tournament, the captain and the coach talked about picking the right team for the venue or the wicket,” he said.
“In Mumbai, with a smaller field and a lot of boundary hitting, the quick bowlers came into the picture a lot more,” he said. “In Nagpur, the slower bowlers were more effective. I can understand why the captain and coach opted for David Wiese.”
That wasn’t the only selection question South Africa faced.
AB de Villiers had been playing as an opener until the tournament began, which led to questions about his reversion to the middle order. JP Duminy’s hamstring injury just as he returned to form also meant that South Africa’s middle order was weakened ahead of the vital tie against the West Indies.
The fact that South Africa’s key batsmen failed to fire was identified by critics back home as a key reason for their inability to advance to the knockouts but when Amla was asked if he felt de Villiers and Duminy had given the team enough, he displayed rare irritation. “Is that a serious question? Really?” he asked. “Next one, please.”
Instead, Amla put South Africa’s performances down to lack of cohesion as a unit and did not place any individual blame. “We haven’t played our best cricket throughout. We haven’t had a game where our batting and our bowling has clicked in the same game.”
All hope had not gone, he said, issuing a familiar message. “This team will win a World Cup or an ICC tournament at some stage.” Just not this time.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo