Hashim Amla is not new. He’s been bearding hundreds for many years now. It is therefore no surprise that his second innings hundred tipped the balance from ‘could go either way’ to ‘very probably a South Africa win’. Vernon Philander’s two late wickets then shoved it to ‘almost certainly a South Africa win’ but he can thank Amla for giving him the opportunity to do that.
Going into the final day, all results are at least technically still possible, so for the most part it’s been a fairly even Test. ‘Fairly even’ doesn’t mean ‘destined for a draw’. It means one side has had to play well to get into a position of dominance and Amla’s contribution looks most influential.
It’s not just England’s specialist batsmen who have been found wanting in this match. Take Amla’s hundred out and South Africa’s top six have actually only scored 14 runs between them. This is a lie – but not that big a lie.
However, with batsmen like Amla, it’s not just about the shots or the runs; it’s the sense you get when he’s batting. It just doesn’t feel like he’s ever going to get out. We don’t know much about professionalism, but Amla’s helmet and clothes must reek of it. Professionalism smells, right?