Bats­man Hamza a sur­prise call-up for Pak­istan Tests

Form for Co­bras grabs at­ten­tion

Sowetan - - Dipapadi - By Khany­iso Tsh­waku

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.

/GALLO IM­AGES/ ASH­LEY VLOTMAN

Zubayr Hamza in his in­nings of 56 against the Highveld Lions in last month’s Four-Day Fran­chise se­ries match in Paarl.

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