South African cricket broke new ground on Tuesday with the appointment of Hashim Amla as Test captain, the first black cricketer to hold the post permanently in a sport long seen to be dominated by whites.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) had identified Amla, one-day skipper AB de Villiers and Twenty20 leader Faf du Plessis as the potential successors to Graeme Smith, who retired from the international game in March.
Having initially ruled himself out, Amla had a change of heart in recent weeks and will now lead the side to Sri Lanka for a two-match series next month.
Amla believes it is the right time for him to take over after the loss of senior players Smith and Jacques Kallis in the past six months.
“This is an exciting challenge but one that I take on with positivity with our Test team being in an exceptionally good space at the moment with the support of a strong core of senior players,” he said in a statement. “I have concentrated on taking my batting to the highest possible level and now I feel I am in a position to make a contribution to South African cricket in a leadership role.”
Amla’s appointment is surprising only in that he has, by his own admission, shied away from leadership roles in the past. De Villiers will keep the vice-captaincy position he filled under Smith, and will remain in charge of the ODI squad with Amla as his deputy.
SA recall Tahir, two uncapped players
CAPE TOWN: South Africa have included uncapped right-handed batsman Stiaan van Zyl and off-spinner Dane Piedt in their Test squad for the two-match tour of Sri Lanka next month. Back-up wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and seam bowler Kyle Abbott, have been retained, and there is also a recall for leg-spinner Imran Tahir. The players to drop out of the test squad are wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren and Robin Peterson, while Smith has retired.
Test: H Amla (capt), K Abbott, Q de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, D Elgar, I Tahir, M Morkel, W Parnell, A Petersen, V Philander, D Piedt, D Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.
One-day: AB de Villiers (capt), H Amla, Q de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, B Hendricks, I Tahir, J Kallis, R McLaren, D Miller, M Morkel, W Parnell, A Phangiso, V Philander, D Steyn.