Tuesday’s decision by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to award Hashim Amla with the captaincy of the national cricket team has been hailed by members of the cricketing fraternity and Muslim community alike. Muslim cricket fans have reacted with excitement and pride, as Amla’s appointment marks the first time a Muslim has been selected to permanently lead a national team, across any sporting code in South Africa.
Leading the praise was Fadiel Gamieldien, the former chairman of the community based team, Bluebells Cricket Club. He described the appointment as sudden but a very good change for non-white communities in South Africa. He also hailed it as a major victory for Muslim sportsmen, and said those most likely to lose out on his appointment, were the ‘non-halal’ sponsors of the South African cricket union, referring to the national cricket team’s main sponsor Castle Lager.
Although the selection was a great motivational boost for up-and-coming Muslim cricketers, he doubted the selection would have any drastic change in terms of the cricketing ability of those currently for the Proteas side.
The Bluebells current chairman, Yusuf Adams, also praised the selection as a good move, acknowledging Amla as an excellent cricketer, who had proven his modestly and maturity – the perfect characteristics for him to be a phenomenal captain. He believed Amla would do wonders as the leader of the Proteas.
“It is good to see we are not just leading in our mosques and religious organisations, but that we are showing leadership in all aspects of life. I think it is very good to see that we are up there with everyone else,” he said.
The appointment would encourage younger cricketers at junior level, to aspire to reach greater heights.
VOC’s own sports presenter Irafaan Abrahams, better known as ‘Vinnige Fannie’, heaped praise on Amla for being selected as the national team’s fifth official captain, and the first full-time Muslim captain across all sporting codes.
“We have a rich cricketing fraternity, not only nationally but internationally as well. This is a great feat for many cricketers who toiled over the years, to get their names etched on international paper score sheets, and to show the class that they have,” he said.
Amla would be carrying the baton of all the sacrifices that previous Muslims sportsmen had made over the years, he said.
In Amla’s hometown of Durban, KZN Cricket Union president Faeez Jaffar said the humble cricket star has been an inspiration to youth.
“On behalf of KZN Cricket Pty Ltd, KZN Cricket Union, fellow cricketers of KZN and the public in general congratulate Hashim on this immense honour. Hashim has his own style of leadership. He has an exceptional quality of bringing a team together. He has been a true role model and ambassador for the young cricketers in KZN and nationally. He is committed to ensuring that South Africa is the number one test playing nation in the world. We are very proud of his achievements,” he said.
Social media response
On Facebook, fans were elated with the news, with many saying Amla was the perfect choice for the role.
“He displays excellent qualities as a Muslim. Firstly, he is a gentleman, he is humble and appears very sincere and I know and trust that he’ll pull it through as captain of the SA Cricket Team! Everyone deserves the chance of showing their worth,” said Fatima Abduraouf.
Anwar Prince shared similar sentiments, and gave his backing to Amla.
“[This is an] Acknowledgement of his skills and worthiness of leading the team, He deserves all the accolades. Now we can support him and his team even better. Congrats Hash!” he said.
Some suggested Amla’s calm head when under pressure, would help the team shed its unwanted age as big game ‘chokers’. However, one user questioned whether Amla would be able to live up to the pressures of the role.
“His great batting ability might suffer under these new requirements as captain. Just look at what happened to Graeme Smith. There is so much to be learned from past mistakes and I think we need him more as a scoring batsman,” said Allie Smith.
Amla will likely make his debut as Proteas captain against Sri Lanka on July 6th. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)