LONDON: South Africa’s Hashim Amla has insisted memories of an inspired innings will play no part when he returns to one of his favourite venues for the third Test against England at The Oval.
Five years ago at the south London ground, Amla made South Africa’s highest individual Test score of 311 not out, his marathon effort playing a key role in an innings and 12-run win.
South Africa return to The Oval for Thursday’s third Test all square at 1-1 in their current four-match series with England after a crushing 340-run win at Trent Bridge earlier this month — a match where Amla scored important fifties in both innings.
The 34-year-old Amla, asked if he was as good a batsman now as he had been five years ago, told reporters at The Oval on Tuesday: “I’ve got the same name, I’ve trained as tough as I can train so for me it’s about continuing that.”
As for his more than 13-hour innings in 2012 — still only the second Test triple century at The Oval after England great Leonard Hutton’s 364 against Australia in 1938 — Amla insisted it was the bowlers who deserved credit for the Proteas winning that Test.
“I remember just trying to bat as long as I can and thankfully I did.
“The lasting memory was that we were bowling on the first day and I think England was in a good position and the way we came back the next day to bowl them out for 385.
“That was the turning point in the game. It got us back in the game to win that Test match. The fight we showed, that was the lasting memory.”
And that means, as far as Amla is concerned, that memories of South Africa’s highest individual Test score won’t be in his thoughts when he bats again at The Oval.
“I think we passed that five years ago,” explained the Durban-born batsman.
“A lot of cricket has happened in between, I don’t think there will be any thoughts of that.
“I find that with things that happened in the past, generally, if you linger on it too long it becomes more of a distraction than anything else so let’s see how this game, every moment is a different opportunity for something to happen.
Thursday’s match marks the 100th Test staged at The Oval — where the first Test in England took place in 1880.
Having had a spell playing for Oval-based Surrey the season after his triple century heroics, Amla knows the ground well.
“It’s probably in my top three or four best venues,” said Amla, himself 105 Test-veteran.
“I really enjoy it here. Especially when the sun is out and I don’t need to have hand-warmers in my pockets.”
South Africa are set to be an even stronger side than the one that triumphed at Trent Bridge as Thursday’s match marks the return of Kagiso Rabada.
The fast bowler, one of the rising stars of world cricket, was banned from the second Test as a result of swearing at England all-rounder Ben Stokes during South Africa’s 211-run defeat in the first Test at Lord’s.
Amla said the 22-year-old Rabada’s own desire not to get banned again would be all the encouragement the bowler needed to modify his approach, adding no one in the Proteas’ camp wanted to douse the paceman’s “fiery” spirit.
“‘KG’ is a wonderful bowler. He’s been outstanding for us in all formats of the game,” said Amla of Rabada, who has already taken 77 wickets in 18 Tests at an average of under 25 apiece.
“I’m sure he doesn’t want to get banned again. No bowler would want to, no player would want to.
“The way he does it is entirely up to him. We’ve always allowed ‘KG’ to be ‘KG’ and enjoy his bowling.
“That’s how he enjoys it — by being fiery and having great intensity.”