Hamza brings youth to Proteas

Business Day - - Sport - Khany­iso Tsh­waku

Cape Hamza in the Proteas’ Co­bras is the sur­prise 13-man bats­man squad se­lec­tion Zubayr for the se­ries against forth­com­ing Pak­istan. three-Test Should the 23-year-old right-han­der make his de­but that starts on Box­ing Day at Su­per­Sport Park in Cen­tu­rion‚ he will be the 100th player to rep­re­sent the Proteas since April 1992 when SA played their first Test since apartheid-en­forced iso­la­tion be­gan in 1970, against the West Indies in Bar­ba­dos. Hamza is part of a Cape Co­bras unit that is sit­ting pretty at the top of the Four-Day Fran­chise se­ries ta­ble and has been a key cog in a young top or­der that has func­tioned flu­ently.

Hamza‚ a prod­uct of Ron­de­bosch Boy’s High School in Cape Town‚ made his first-class de­but for Western Prov­ince against KwaZulu-Na­tal In­land when he was still 18. He scored 29 and two in the drawn three-day game, but in 50 sub­se­quent out­ings he has made 3,543 runs. He av­er­ages 48.95 with nine first-class tons and 22 fifties but in nine in­nings in five Four-Day Fran­chise matches this sea­son‚ he has col­lected 255 runs at 31.87 with two fifties. He is the 20th-high­est red­ball run-scorer this sea­son in a group that is led by Knights bats­man Piet van Biljon (574 runs at 63.77) and Hamza’s team­mate Pi­eter Malan (492 runs at 54.66). Hamza has played less first­class cricket than the duo but has a bet­ter ca­reer av­er­age (Van Biljon: 42.47 and Malan: 45.81). Malan un­lucky could be­cause con­sider he him­self has been a con­sis­tent per­former re­gard­less of the Cape Co­bras’ fluc­tu­a­tions in the past four sea­sons. At 29‚ Malan also has a few good bat­ting years ahead of him. Hamza, though, had a stand­out sea­son in 2017; he was fourth on the red-ball charts with 828 runs at 69 with three 100s and four 50s. Na­tional con­venor of se­lec­tors Linda Zondi‚ whose eye is of­ten on the fu­ture‚ said Hamza’s se­lec­tion has po­ten­tial fu­ture re­tire­ments in mind. Zondi said Hamza’s good form for SA A has also worked in his favour. Stal­warts Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla are on the wrong side of 30 and their fu­ture in all forms of cricket will come un­der scru­tiny after the 2019 World Cup in Eng­land. “Zubayr has been one of the stand­out crick­eters in do­mes­tic cricket over the past year and car­ried that form into the SA A tour to In­dia where he av­er­aged over 50 in the four-day se­ries against tough op­po­si­tion and un­der tough con­di­tions. “Be­fore that‚ he had an out­stand­ing sea­son in the four-day fran­chise com­pe­ti­tion where he scored 823 runs‚ in­clud­ing three cen­turies‚ at the im­pres­sive av­er­age of 69,” Zondi said.

“His se­lec­tion is part of our vi­sion for the fu­ture as we start to feed new play­ers into the sys­tem. It is in­evitable that some of our se­nior play­ers will start think­ing of re­tir­ing in years to come and it is vi­tal that we have a good suc­ces­sion plan in place.” Lungi Ngidi is nurs­ing a knee in­jury that he sus­tained in the sole T20 against Aus­tralia in Novem­ber and that rules him out of the first part of SA’s Test sum­mer. Duanne Olivier‚ who has bowled well in the Mzansi Su­per League and col­lected 20 Four-Day Fran­chise wick­ets at 22.80‚ will fill in for him.

Zubayr Hamza

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