Cricket is a game full of quirks. Over the last decade, cricket fans and experts have endlessly wondered why, despite having a record to match the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, Jacques Kallis was never considered in the same class for the longest time.
Now, there is another Proteas batsman who would be subject to a similar kind of enquiry. Hashim Amla has decided to bring curtains down on his illustrious career in international cricket. This decision by the veteran right-handed batsman was in the making for at least a couple of years. His performances of late had been a pale shadow of the prolificacy and consistency he once possessed on the international stage.
For most cricket followers, Amla is the man who scored South Africa's first, and till date, only triple hundred. But few people give the bearded warrior of South Africa the credit he deserves for his ODI brilliance.
Amla's ODI brilliance
It may come as a huge surprise to many fans that Amla was once tearing apart Virat Kohli's ODI records. While the current India captain is universally accepted as the best one-day international batsman in the world, the gentle-mannered South African was easily getting to prominent ODI batting landmarks faster than Kohli when he was at his prime.
From 2000 to 7000, the South African master batsman reached every multiple of 1000 runs in lesser innings than his Indian rival. It was only when the 8000-run mark came about that Kohli pipped Amla to the post by getting there in one innings less.
So, why was Amla never feared in the same way Kohli was? Why was he never regarded as a most dangerous threat by the opposition? The answer lies in his way of playing.
In cricket, it's not just the runs you get that matters, but also the way you get them. Amla was indeed very prolific but wasn't denting and damaging the opposition in the way Kohli does. The best example of this can be had from an innings he played against Pakistan in 2013.
In this match, at Port Elizabeth, Pakistan batted first and scored 262. South Africa looked well on course to victory with Amla leading the way. The 36-year old scored 98 but couldn't prevent the match from going into the final over. He was dismissed on the last ball of the penultimate over and his team ended up losing the match by one solitary run.
You would never see Virat Kohli almost batting till the end of the innings and then losing the game, especially when chasing an average target of 263. That's what makes him the greatest chaser in this format's history.
Amla, on the other hand, was a great accumulator but didn't take the game by the scruff of the neck. Hence, he would not be considered as an equal to Kohli, no matter what the numbers would say. Still, the South African was a batsman par excellence and provided great joy to every cricket fan lucky enough to seem him in action. Let's home his post-retirement life is equally successful.