London, the last week in April and the last week in May, have been good to the Durban High School Class of 2000’s Hashim Amla.
To close out the month of April, “The Mighty Hash” hit an unbeaten double hundred for Surrey against Hampshire in the County Championship and then wrapped up the month of May with another big score, 173 against Gloucestershire this time, in the same competition .
First up, Hash – who captained the DHS first XI in the year 2000 – compiled an unbeaten 215 in 8 hours and 11 minutes at the crease (367 balls with 22 boundaries) at The [Kia] Oval that helped set up victory for Surrey by an innings and 289 runs over Hampshire.
Hash, who was born on 31 March 1983, eventually retired hurt after conjuring up his 7th double century in first-class cricket over a first-class career that has now spanned 246 matches.
It is the same ground where Hash, now 38, became the first South African to make a triple Test hundred – against England in 2012 – a monumental 13 hour-and-10-minute knock of 311 not out that bore telling testimony to his considerable durability, patience and skill.
Of the Hampshire rout, ESPN cricinfo’s Matt Roller reported that Hash “had managed only 78 runs in his first 3 games of the season, including a pair at Lord’s [the week before] but this innings was a throwback to his heyday, as he punched through cover, steered through third man and whipped through midwicket with a roll of the wrists.
“Amla was thwarted by birds more regularly than by Hampshire bowlers: a back-foot punch through the covers was stopped by a flock of pigeons grazing in the deep, and he backed away moments before a Liam Dawson ball that pegged back his off stump as one flew across his line of vision, resulting in a dead ball.
“Scott Currie, the 19-year-old seamer, induced a couple of false shots and had him dropped at wide slip on 184…” but apart from that it was vintage Hashim Amla, doing what he does best, dictating the course of a match.
The DHS Old Boy’s School first XI of 2000 included the likes of fellow Proteas cap and current Hollywoodbets Dolphins head coach Imraan Khan, Scott Mathie of DHS (and more) rugby playing & coaching renown, as well as the current headmaster of the independent Lynford School (in Ixopo) Luke Hounsom, and was coached by Alan Norton, the current principal of Durban North College who put 30 years of his teaching and coaching career into “School” as DHS is affectionately known.
Four weeks after his 215 it was another big Amla innings on his home county ground that influenced another big Surrey victory, this time by an innings and 47 runs over County Championship Group 2 high riders Gloucestershire, the men from the West country’s first defeat of the campaign.
Amla scored 173 this time round, compiled during an 8-hour-and-23-minute marathon out in the middle in which he faced 347 deliveries and hit 16 boundaries for his 54th first-class century.
“If Surrey supporters could name one thing that they missed most about not being able to come to The Oval in recent times, the sight Hashim Amla in full flow would surely have been high on the list,” reported ESPN cricinfo’s Alan Gardner, “… there are few batters in world cricket so unarguably worth the admission fee.”
“Those who made the pilgrimage for Surrey’s encounter with Gloucestershire were duly rewarded. Amla moved serenely to 3 figures during the dying embers of the [second] day, as if to order for those wishing to slip in for a glimpse of greatness on their way home from work.
“Some 2 500 were in the ground, and the majority of them rose to their feet as he stroked his 12th boundary through the covers, then removed his helmet to salute the four corners [of The Oval].
“This was also a captain’s innings, with Amla taking over responsibilities from Test-match bound Rory Burns [the upcoming England vs New Zealand 2-Test series that starts Wednesday].
“Leading with the bat has always come naturally for Amla and, having started well by winning the toss, he coasted up and down through the gears as required to ensure Surrey finished the [second] day ably placed.”
This was a match in which Surrey needed a win over the men from the West country in order to keep their County Championship title hopes alive.
It was Amla’s 3rd County Championship hundred for Surrey.
Gardner went on to say that Gloucestershire were “pummelled for the best part of two days by Hashim Amla’s velvet-gloved iron fist”.
More of Gardner on the Mighty Hash and this match: “Having spent 5 sessions in the field, the majority of which involved the exquisite torture of watching Amla go about his business at close range on the way to 173 from 347 balls, Gloucestershire’s batters had to gird themselves for an uncomfortable examination under suddenly grouchy south London skies. Surrey had the platform they wanted…”
“… Amla would have to be the ‘Boa Constrictor’, squeezing every ounce out of an innings or situation. He had Gloucestershire trussed up in his coils for almost eight-and-a-half hours, slowly tightening, tightening as Surrey set about making good on the attempt to bat once and bat big, before unleashing their spinners on a wearing surface.”
So, all in all, a thoroughly well-deserved “Well done Hash!”
The DHS Old Boy of the “wristy leg-side flick and serene cover drive” as so aptly described by ESPN cricinfo’s Firdose Moonda, ranks right up there with School’s best.