The opener races past 4,000 runs breaking Viv Richards’s record

“He should stand for president, man!” a South African sports-scribe hollered while he ran down the stairs from the press conference hall at the Kingsmead Stadium here on Sunday evening.

The ‘He’ was Hashim Amla, who after scoring his 12th ODI hundred and becoming the fastest man to reach 4,000 runs (81 innings) in limited overs cricket ahead of Sir Vivian Richards (88), was a picture of modesty, political correctness and philosophical depth.

At ease

Amla, whose roots are in Durban, was at ease in the media interaction where a few local scribes greeted him, saying, ‘welcome back home,’ and put an arm around his shoulder.

After being one of the pivots that helped South Africa defeat India by 134 runs in the second ODI of the three-match series, Amla under-played his role, and when the ‘4,000 query’ popped up, he shook his head and said: “Feel a bit embarrassed to have it because Sir Viv Richards is certainly the master blaster.

“Whatever the case be, there is a lot of one-day cricket these days, and no doubt someone else will come along and beat that.”

Sheepish

When a reporter said that he is the ‘best Test batsman’ in the world, a sheepish Amla refused to accept that title and instead spoke extensively about his opening partner Quinton de Kock.

“I am not the best Test batsman in the world. Everybody goes through certain phases in their career when they score a lot of runs, and then they go through leaner phases. But I am not going to look too far ahead. You never know what is around the corner.

“Guys like Quinton coming along. He is putting his hand up to be probably one of the best. It’s early to talk, and put too much pressure on the youngster, but I think Quinny has a bright future as an opening batsman.

“For me I am just going to block up one end while he smashes it all over,” said Amla, while his averages — 52.32 in Tests and 53.88 in ODIs — are obvious signposts to his greatness, which he wears lightly.

The opener also refused to label the Indian attack as ‘easy meat’ and when asked about the good spirit in which the two matches have been played so far between the two teams, Amla drew a parallel between Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, the latter hailing from the same State as the bearded batsman’s ancestors — Gujarat.

“Both teams have been respectful and competitive, which has been brilliant. That is in the sprit of the game, and probably in fitting with the whole, you know, with the late Mandela passing away and the way he conducted himself throughout his life.

“Another Indian icon would be Mahatma Gandhi. The way they conducted themselves, it’s probably been in their spirit and in the spirit of the game.”

Sitting next to Amla, the Proteas skipper AB de Villiers exclaimed: “Jeez, that is deep man, very deep!”

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