ALL HAIL KING HASH

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART HESS

South Africa’s Hashim Amla, who scored a cen­tury at The Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day in what was his 100th Test match. At stumps on day one against Sri Lanka, Amla was 125 not out.

HASHIM Amla cel­e­brated be­com­ing the eighth South African to play 100 Tests by be­com­ing the eighth player to score a cen­tury in that land­mark match when he reached three fig­ures in the fi­nal Test against Sri Lanka at the Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day.

Amla ended the first day of the third Test against the Sri Lankans on 125 not out.

His early strug­gles were off­set by a flu­ent in­nings by JP Du­miny, who also reg­is­tered a hun­dred. He was dis­missed for 155 in the penul­ti­mate over of the day. The Proteas fin­ished on 338/3.

Du­miny wouldn’t have minded not be­ing in the spot­light, which had shone on Amla all day from an hour be­fore play started, when he re­ceived gifts from Cricket South Africa which in­cluded a gold coin and a spe­cially em­broi­dered shirt that marked the oc­ca­sion of his mile­stone.

“I’m re­ally grate­ful to reach 100 Tests. But to be very hon­est, in the last cou­ple of Tests I’ve not scored runs, (so com­ing into the game) my fo­cus was on scor­ing runs,” said Amla.

It was the 26th hun­dred of his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, but the 33-year-old’s first in al­most a year, a sign of how dif­fi­cult 2016 was for him in the Test arena.

“I wanted to have a quiet build-up. There’s been some frus­tra­tion, hav­ing not got runs in the last cou­ple of games and not con­tribut­ing to the team’s suc­cess. I wanted my fo­cus to be as pure as pos­si­ble, no side at­trac­tions, razzmatazz,” he said. “I per­son­ally am re­ally grate­ful to get to 100 games, and no dis­re­spect to it, but more im­por­tantly I wanted to work on my game with as lit­tle dis­trac­tion as pos­si­ble.”

Team­mates have been at pains to high­light that Amla’s mood has barely changed, even as he hasn’t reg­is­tered the re­turns he has be­come ac­cus­tomed to with the bat. He has been gen­er­ous with his time and with dis­pens­ing any as­sis­tance, with Stephen Cook say­ing that – for him – it felt like Amla was al­ready 30 not out even be­fore he faced a ball yes­ter­day.

Cricket SA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ha­roon Lor­gat paid spe­cial trib­ute to Amla be­fore the start of play.

“Hashim has en­ter­tained us all with many mem­o­rable mo­ments dur­ing his out­stand­ing ca­reer and will un­doubt­edly con­tinue to do so for some time to come,” said Lor­gat.

“Inevitably, the mem­o­ries flood back to his triple cen­tury at The Oval when the Proteas equalled a world record by win­ning a Test match af­ter los­ing only two wick­ets; his in­nings of 196, the high­est for the Proteas against Aus­tralia since unity, that helped clinch the se­ries win Down Un­der; and his cen­tury in Sri Lanka when he led the Proteas to only their se­cond Test se­ries win in that coun­try.”

“Pos­si­bly, most im­por­tant of all, he has been a role model to the na­tion, par­tic­u­larly to the youth, for his hum­ble na­ture and the bal­anced out­look he brings to all as­pects of his life,” he added.

Tributes poured in from team­mates on so­cial me­dia af­ter Amla reached his cen­tury, with Dale Steyn tweet­ing: “Stoked for the spe­cial man @am­la­hash,” and AB de Vil­liers, who put in an ap­pear­ance at the ground yes­ter­day as the teams were warm­ing up, also tweet­ing: “Hashim Amla. Spe­cial man, spe­cial player!!!”

For­mer Proteas cap­tain Graeme Smith, the last crick­eter to score a cen­tury in his 100th Test (against Eng­land at The Oval in 2012), also tweeted his con­grat­u­la­tions: “Wel­come to the club @am­la­hash #Hash100.”

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

PIC­TURE: AP

GRATE­FUL: Hashim Amla, pic­tured here cel­e­brat­ing his score of 250 against Eng­land at The Oval in 2012, notched up a cen­tury in his 100th Test for South Africa yes­ter­day.

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