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Silence greets Amla

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By Stuart Hess

One of my favourite moments of the Perth Test, as described by the The Sydney Telegraph, involved Hashim Amla returning to a stunned and silent dressing room following the second day’s play at the Waca.

The silence was only brief, mind you, but it caught even the usually unflappable Amla by surprise. Amla was not out on 99 off 84 balls and he and Graeme Smith had been the central figures in dishing out a pounding to Australia in the final session of that second day.

A total of 206 runs in 32 overs. Amla’s attacking instincts rendered his teammates speechless, according to AB de Villiers.

South Africa’s feats in the Test arena this year have beggared belief. Day two in Perth was phenomenal: from the bowlers smashing through Australia’s batting order to Smith and Amla smashing the Australian bowlers. There have been displays of dominance all year that have been, well, very Australian.

Think back to The Oval and Amla again, twice; first in combination with Smith (again) and then Jacques Kallis, compiling back-to-back partnerships of more than 250 runs. Amla made a triple century there, which certainly ranks among the individual highlights of South African sports in 2012.

Dale Steyn backed up Amla’s historic batting effort with another crushing performance with the ball as England were dismantled by an innings.

Dominating performances such as those produced at The Oval and the Waca have served to underline South Africa’s status as Test cricket’s best side – the challenge for them of course is to sustain that position.

Doing so involves dominating on home soil, something South Africa have failed to do in the last four years. They’ve won just one of their last five Test series on home soil, failing to match the consistency they’ve shown overseas.

It makes the upcoming home series with New Zealand and Pakistan vital. Smith spoke on Wednesday about the side having the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the rankings, which would make the two home series next summer – against Australia first and then India – even tastier affairs.

But before that, they must dominate. Big hundreds, five-fors, and batting of the kind seen from Amla this year needs to be replicated at Newlands, St George’s Park and the Wanderers in the next few weeks.

That dynasty, legacy, call it what you will, can be built in the next year and then we will measure how good this team really is. – the Star

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