During his short-term stay at Essex, Hashim Alma was christened ‘WG’ in reference to WG Grace. It’s not hard not to see why.
The Durban-born Alma’s rapid ascent to Test captain of the South African team, taking over after Graeme Smith’s retirement, was no accident. Initially criticised for his lack of runs during early tours in India and England, he has silenced those who questioned his technique. He is now the fastest to reach 2000 runs in One-Day Internationals, the first South African to score a triple century in Tests (311 against England), the fastest to reach 3000 ODI runs, overtaking a certain Vivian Richards, and then, again, the fastest to reach 4000 and 5000 runs.
He became the first since Ricky Ponting in 2013 to head both the ODI and Test rankings, and, in what is just another record for him, only the fourth person to ever score ODI centuries against all Test-playing nations.
An elegant strokemaker and a mainstay in all formats for his country, Amla opens in ODIs and comes one down in Tests. As South Africa’s second non-white Test captain, he helped them retain the Test mace for the No. 1 side in the world in 2014. The individual records are likely to keep tumbling; but can ‘WG’ help his team to the greatest prize of them all?