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Amla overcomes England bully-boy tactics

Amla overcomes England bully-boy tactics

In the 2004/05 home series against England, Amla averaged just nine.

LOndon: Hashim Amla was a quietly proud man after his unbeaten century helped see South Africa to the safety of a first Test draw against England here at Lord's and in the process erased some painful memories.

During the 2004/05 series in South Africa, Amla averaged just nine in two Tests against England before being dropped after struggling against the short ball.

But the men who got him out back then - Stephen Harmison, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard - weren't in the England side at Lord's where a placid pitch made life tough for fast bowlers.
That didn't stop England peppering Amla on Monday with a succession of short-pitched deliveries and packing the legside, close-in field. However, that didn't stop the 25-year-old completing his fifth hundred in 26 Tests and first against England.

"I am satisfied to score a hundred at Lord's," said Amla, who was 104 not out when the match ended prematurely thanks to what South Africa captain Graeme Smith said was a "gentleman's agreement" even though the Proteas were only 47 ahead with a minimum of 19 overs left in the day.

"To score a hundred anywhere is a lovely feeling," Amla added. "My experience four years ago against England didn't go too well so it's great to get some runs against them under my belt."
Turning to England's tactics, stylish shotmaker Amla - who came into this match on the back of big hundreds in the warm-up matches with Somerset and Middlesex - said: "It was the same strategy they used four years ago.

"I am not a big hooker or puller. Over the years I've tried to develop my skills against the short ball and take a few on the body."

That South Africa emerged with a draw in the first of this four-Test series, after being made to follow-on, owed much to opener Neil McKenzie's marathon 138, which lasted more than nine hours.

"It's tough up front but you relax into it," McKenzie explained. "It was something I made peace with, that I was going to bat time. I always like to get the scoreboard ticking, so it was a role I haven't played too often but it was something that was required."

McKenzie, by the end of his innings, was batting with a runner because of a groin strain but he was optimistic he would be fit for the second Test at Headingley which starts on Friday. "It's feeling alright. I have some friction on it and the physio will assess it on Tuesday."

Reflecting on the match as whole, McKenzie said. "We feel satisfied but disappointed as well. We let ourselves down the first couple of days but we showed a lot of character to come back."
first published:July 15, 2008, 10:06 IST