But he is not only the one on the radar
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.
It is understood that SA’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 Test cricket. Equally, he has 7 186 runs in 156 ODI matches at an average of 50.25.
Incidentally, he is also the fastest to reach 2 000 runs, 3 000, 4 000, 5 000, 6 000 and 7 000 ODI runs after recently breaking Virat Kohli’s record.
One final crack
Amla has previously stated that his 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 already by then.
However, Amla would no doubt have given serious thought to pursuing a Kolpak career 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 Proteas head coach shortly.
Although Amla is known to be a keen supporter of Gibson’s coaching style, it is well-documented that Amla 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, the Proteas Test opening combination is 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. This has led to a profound impact on his success over the last couple of years, with Amla’s own high-level performances dropping as a result.
With powerhouses such as India and Australia set to visit South African shores this home summer, Amla and Morkel are worth their weight in gold for the team.
The only consolation for CSA may be that Amla has committed to the Global T20 League where he is currently the marquee player of the Kingsmead-based Durban Qalandars.
The Global League T20 is set to get under way in November.
Amla has previously enjoyed county stints as overseas player for London teams Essex and Surrey, particularly enjoying his time at the latter due to the “vibe” and “atmosphere” at The Oval.