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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 12:59 GMT
South Africa tap into Asian talent
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in Durban

Quotas have become a byword in South African domestic cricket, but one province has a natural resource of multi-ethnic players that is the envy of all others.

Hashim Amla
I am proud of my Indian roots
Hashim Amla

There are more people of Asian descent living in KwaZulu-Natal than in any other population outside the sub-continent.

No fewer than five of the province's squad are Asian-South Africans.

And one member, 20-year-old Hashim Amla, is already being seen as a future national captain.

Brought up in Tongaat, a town 40km north of Durban with a 90% Indian population, Hashim played in all-Asian cricket teams until the age of 13.

Once at Durban High School he went through the various schoolboy ranks until, early last year, he captained South Africa at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand.

"I consider myself to be South African but I am also proud of my Indian roots," Hashim says.

"My parents were also born here but my grandparents were born in Surat, western India, and I speak a bit of Gujarati.

Amla factfile
Born: Durban 31/3/1983
First-class debut: 1999-2000
855 runs in 15 first-class games, average 38.86, 1x100 8x50

"I am a devout Muslim - strictly no alcohol or pork - which helps me with my cricket.

"It brings stability to an unstable game."

Hashim's elder brother Ahmed is also in the KwaZulu-Natal squad, along with Goolam Bodi, Imraan Khan, Rivash Gobind and Ashraf Mall, none of whom is over 24.

It has taken time, of course, for Asian cricketers to start to come through in numbers and there is a risk that non-white players will be promoted prematurely.

That, though, does not seem to be a danger with Hashim.

Hashim Amla is one of South African cricket's hopes for the future
South Africa lost to Australia in last year's U19 World Cup final

Having also represented South Africa A a number of times, he has scored centuries at provincial level and for the Rest of South Africa side against the A team - all before his 19th birthday.

"Because of the demographics of the country, I played in all-Asian cricket until I went to high school," he said.

"And I have encountered some racism - all of it indirect, and most of it in club not professional cricket.

"But generally I am against quotas. When I captained the under-19 side we had, I think, three Indians, one black, two coloured guys and six white guys.

"It was a fantastic team and everyone gelled perfectly but future teams must be picked on merit."




SEE ALSO
Where did it all go wrong for SA?
04 Mar 03 |  South Africa
Zondeki ready for challenge
07 Feb 03 |  South Africa
SA make U-turn on quotas
11 Jul 02 |  Cricket


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