Sport

Amla steals the England show

Neil Manthorp

South Africa's 2012 tour of England will not be remembered for a few weak middle-order batting displays in one-day internationals.

South Africa's 2012 tour of England will be remembered as Hashim Amla's tour. (AP)

It will also not be remembered for Wayne Parnell's embarrassing concession of 32 runs in a single over during an 11-over a side match in Birmingham on September 12. Both limited-overs series were shared, two all and one all, in case you have already forgotten.

Instead, it will be recorded as South Africa's most successful ever tour of England and the first time in nine post-isolation series that there has been more than a single Test between them.

It will also be remembered as Hashim Amla's tour. Not since Viv Richards in 1976 has a visiting batsman made such an impression on the home fans, as the standing ovation he was given by the Edgbaston crowd on his last walk back to the pavilion confirmed.

His triple century at the Oval was an epic, whereas the second-innings century at Lord's, his second at the venue, allowed Vernon Philander and the rest of the bowlers to win the series. Without that innings, it would almost certainly also have finished level. But there was more.

Although it probably will not be remembered as such because of the context and the perceived lack of gravitas at the time, his career-best 150 in the second one-day international in Southampton rates among the finest innings of its kind in Proteas history. Asked whether it might be rated in the top three, coach Gary Kirsten replied: "On that wicket, and the shot-making he produced, it might rank in the top one."

All bar Kirsten, who grabbed a few days with his family in Cape Town, headed straight to Sri Lanka from London on Thursday to start preparations for the T20 World Cup. The tournament is the shortest and least arduous of the International Cricket Council's three, but it is also the least predictable and the most likely to produce an upset. South Africa's first game is against Zimbabwe on September 20. It is a classic banana skin waiting to be stepped on.

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