Batsman Hamza a surprise call-up for Pakistan Tests
Form for Cobras grabs attention
Cape Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza is the surprise selection in the Proteas’ 13-man squad for the three-Test series against Pakistan later this month.
Should the 23-year-old righthander make his debut in the series that starts on Boxing Day at SuperSport Park in Centurion‚ he’ll be the 100th player to represent the Proteas since April 1992 when South Africa played their first Test after isolation.
Hamza is part of the Cape Cobras unit 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 Boys’ High School in Cape Town‚ made his firstclass debut for Western Province against KwaZuluNatal Inland when he was still 18. He scored 29 and two in the drawn three-day game but in 50 subsequent outings‚ he’s 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’s collected 255 runs at 31.87 with two fifties.
He’s the 20th-highest run scorer in the red-ball format this season, in a group led by Knights batsman Pite 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 leading duo but has a better career average.
Malan could consider himself unlucky because he’s been a consistent performer regard- less of the Cape Cobras’ fluctuations in the past four season.
At 29‚ Malan also has a few good batting years ahead of him. Hamza, though, had a standout season last year where he was fourth on the red-ball run-scoring charts with 828 runs at 69, with three hundreds and four fifties.
National convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said Hamza’s selection has potential future retirements in mind.
Zondi said Hamza’s good SA “A” form has also worked in his favour.
Stalwarts Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla are on the wrong side of 30 and their futures in all forms of cricket will come under scrutiny after next year’s World Cup in England.
Zubayr Hamza in his innings of 56 against the Highveld Lions in last month’s Four-Day Franchise series match in Paarl.