South Africa beat India in the First Test in Centurion Park. All thanks to devastating bowling from Morne Morkel in the first innings and superb centuries by Hash ,AB and a double ton by Kallis.
I met Hash on the eve before he was due to bat. For my readers Hash is looking Top Class. Man looks physically strong and as always mentally in tune. We chatted for a bit.I said "Century Hash" and a century he got. I took a two year old kid to meet Hash.This youngster is a friends son and a aspiring Hashim Amla fan.Believe it or not this two year old imitates Hash and he just wanted to meet Hashim Amla.
So I called Hash and set it up. The kid was thrilled. He just sat in Hash's lap and said "Hashim Amla, Hashim Amla" all the time. Hash true to his word made it special for the little lad and gave so much of his time
Its amazing you know to see our youngsters and kids aspiring to be what Hashim Amla is. It just shows the stature and grace that he has brought to World Cricket. Not only is he an icon now for our youngsters but he is a great World Cricketer. And off the pitch he is a remarkable human being that leaves behind a legacy. He has this ambiance and presence about him. That visit to this little kid clearly shows to me what Hashim Amla has become from the day I met him four years ago.
I remember the day clearly. We were in Cape Town staying in the same hotel as the Proteas. I remember the excitement I had. I mean for me Swoosh,an avid Sports fan I respected the dedication and commitment that was needed to reach this high level. and here there was a muslim youngster that was playing Test Cricket for South Africa. He was facing the Worlds best and obviously in a position that many of us dream to be. I had to meet him.
I remember seeing the team leave towards the Nets from the Hotel.I caught sight of Hash for the first time. He was a long distance away. I was like a kid meeting his hero. In my excitement I scram to Ntini.I said "Makhaya Call Hash." Makhaya looked at me like I was mad. It was just the excitement.
I missed Hash as he strode away with the team. I immediately called my friend Yousuf Kadwa whos family knows Hash. I said Joey Im at the same hotel as Hash. I have to meet him .Hook it up.
Joey smsed me Hash's number and I sent a text message at about 2pm on New Years Day.
I thought to myself If I get a reply from Hash it would be a bonus. At about 5pm I received a sms saying "Salaams Naseem, Got back from practise .Will meet you in the Lobby at 7pm for tea."
I was excited....I mean, to me I was going to meet a man thats name rings out through every street,masjid and shop. I remember the old timers after Mosque talking about Hashim Amla and the shots that he played etc. I remember the nerves that I felt every time Hash goes to the wicket. I mean this was an icon in his own right. I heard lots of perceptions bout Hash and I was kitted in my usual shorts and Italy kit on holiday mode. When I went down I remember taking off my earring and putting on a tracksuit pants. It just felt right. I was 5 minutes away from meeting Hashim Amla.
Three of us went down and we waited at the Hotels coffee shop. Minutes later a well built lad strolled in....Totally relaxed wearing long shorts and sandals and obviously the distinct beard and a pair of specs. He approached us as I waved and sat down. It was as if we knew Hash for many years. I sat in awe as we chatted for a full hour and sipped on tea. I mean here was a man that has reached the pinnacle of his sport and yet he was the most humble human being ever. Weve never met him but yet he has given us the time of day and attention that we so craved. We chatted about cricket and the journey. I asked Hash so many questions and I kept on processing questions in my head as if to not say the wrong thing. But here was a south african sportsman's focused and so mentally strong and humble as ever. People that passed by took note of him as we sat,some waved,kids came over for a autograph.
I dunno hey,Hash just exudes this ambiance and peace about him. Im sure some of you have met him and can relate.....But there is indeed something special about Hashim Amla.From the moment you meet him. And this made me stress alot more. I mean now that I knew him I didnt want it to stop there.I wanted this friendship to continue.And more so I wanted to be around Hashim Amla from a cricketing and personal perspective. After an hour we said salaams and We said "Hash give us a century tomorrow". Hash responded and said "Insha allah.If God wills". He was under a bit of pressure as he needed a 100 after back to back failures.
And in my heart I wanted this remarkable man to score a great 100. For so many reasons,some political,some because of the hardship muslim and Indian sportsman endued in the past because of apartheid and lack of opportunity. That evening we chatted on sms and with regards to the conversation we ended up at Newlands on a boiling hot day....
|Hash batting at Newlands|
And yes we watched Hashim Amla bat that day. And it was the first time I seen him live ever. Hash got a century and I there was an inner happiness that engulfed me that trip. I was just so happy for Hash. More so because I met him and felt this connection. As the years went on our friendship developed. We spend time during his tours and most of our fond memories would be the Newlands Tests and our evening Chaai sessions at Newlands Sun. I even watched Hash embraced by youngsters during a net session on New Years Day
I remember when Hash scored a 40 on a difficult Newlands wicket against England I think. Im not so sure. While we were having tea Graeme Pollock walked in and marched straight to Hash. He stretched out his hand and said "Son even though you scored 40 I have never seen anyone play with such a straight bat before.Well Done"
Years later Hashim has played some mesmerising innings. He is in great form and is a great World Cricketer.
Every time I meet him I still have the same feeling.And thats the feeling I have as the Day I met Hashim Amla.
And I may not have played sports at the highest level,but i certainly played it at a competitive level.I played soccer finals and tennis for Wits B...I felt the nerves and its nothing compared to what our local sportsmen like Hash achieved but I know damn well the commitment and resolve needed to be a great Sportsman.