CAPE TOWN – It is not only England’s Premiership football clubs that are currently actively involved in the transfer market, but so too the cricket counties, who are looking to land the prized scalp of Hashim Amla on a Kolpak deal.
Independent Media understands that South Africa’s star batsman has been approached by various counties, among them a London club, to prolong his playing career on the English county circuit.
It has already been reported that Proteas fast bowler Morné Morkel has been lined up by Warwickshire, among others, to follow the likes of Hampshire duo Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, Stiaan van Zyl (Sussex) and Dane Vilas (Lancashire), who have all recently forgone their international careers in favour of lucrative long-term county contracts.
While they are all significant losses – or potentially in Morkel’s case – to the national team’s cause, none are even comparable to Amla’s stature should the 34-year-old retire from international cricket.
Amla is the premier batsman in the Proteas Test side, having accumulated 8 281 runs in 107 Tests at an average of 49.00.
The former Test skipper also holds the record for the highest score (311 not out) by a South African in the five-day arena.
In addition, he has 7 186 runs in 156 ODI matches at an average of 50.25 and is also the fastest to reach 2 000, 3 000, 4 000, 5 000, 6 000 and 7 000 ODI runs after recently breaking Virat Kohli’s record.
Amla has previously stated that he still has the desire to have one final crack at the 2019 World Cup in England with the Proteas, which is still two years away though, when he will be 36.
However, Amla would no doubt have given serious thought to pursuing a Kolpak deal after the recent failed England tour.
The Proteas Test side are in a state of transition, with current England bowling coach Ottis Gibson reportedly set to take over from Russell Domingo as the new South African head coach shortly.
Although Amla is known to be a keen supporter of Gibson’s coaching style, it is well-documented that he developed a strong bond with Domingo over the years, often saying “the coaching staff has been as good a coaching staff that I’ve had in all my years of playing”.
With Domingo likely to exit the national team, Amla could view this period as the ideal time for a fresh start for him too.
Equally, the less-pressurised environment of county cricket could be attractive to Amla at this stage of his career.
Not only does he have a young family to consider – with a third child having been born recently – but the Proteas Test opening combination is also not functioning at the moment.
This has routinely forced Amla to virtually open the innings and play in a role that goes against his natural attacking abilities, which has led to a profound impact on his success over the last couple of years and Amla’s own high-level performances dropping as a result.
Proteas legend Allan Donald recently pleaded with Morkel not to sign a Kolpak deal, begging Cricket South Africa to “give him what he wants” because “we need him this summer”.
With powerhouses such as India and Australia set to visit South African shores this home summer, expect similar talks to be had with Amla over the course of the next few weeks in the CSA boardrooms.
The only consolation for CSA may be that Amla has committed to the T20 Global League, where he is currently the marquee player of the Kingsmead-based Durban Qalandars.
The new competition is set to begin in November.
Amla has previously enjoyed county stints as an overseas player for Essex – near London – and Surrey, particularly enjoying his time at the latter due to the “vibe” and “atmosphere” at The Oval in the southern parts of the British capital.