Hamza: from clumsy to batty

Zubayr Hamza of the Proteas during the South African national cricket team training session at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg yesterday. /Gallo Images/ Lee Warren
Zubayr Hamza of the Proteas during the South African national cricket team training session at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg yesterday. /Gallo Images/ Lee Warren

While Pakistan have to pick up the pieces of what remains of the Test series against the Proteas, the once-clumsy Zubayr Hamza hasn't just morphed into a neat top-order batsman, but one who's on the cusp of being South Africa's 100th Test cricketer since readmission in 1992.

With regular captain Faf du Plessis missing the third Test against Pakistan at the Wanderers starting tomorrow, if picked, Hamza will be South Africa's golden centurion representative.

There's also the significant matter of his senior Cape Cobras teammate Pieter Malan also earning a deserved Test cap should Aiden Markram fail to recover from a thigh injury sustained in the nine-wicket win in the second Test at Newlands in Cape Town.

The Proteas will be captained by Dean Elgar but that's the least of Hamza's concerns - but rebutting his parents' stories about him with a smile was.

"I've heard a lot of stories from my parents, whether it was about me rolling my foot over a football and stuff like that. The one story I'm told is one of me playing football in the kitchen and I ended up being covered in fish oil but I never really thought that cricket was going to be the sport I was going to make a career out of," Hamza said.

"I was more into football but as I've grown up, I've fallen more in love with the sport and the fact that I'm sitting speaking to you guys is just crazy. There's a bit of nerves but I'm enjoying [it]."

The smile Hamza had was quickly banished by the hot sun that beat over the Wanderers as he took to his fielding drills.

The slip cordon that consisted of Hashim Amla, Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma at gully also served to confirm where the spine of South Africa's batting is located.

De Bruyn is the batsman most ill at ease with underwhelming showings in Cape Town and Centurion, albeit on challenging batting surfaces.

Should Hamza make his debut, he'll most probably slot in at number six while Malan could open if Markram is not passed fit tomorrow morning.

Malan has 629 Four-Day Franchise runs at an average of 52.41 this season, while Hamza's collected 329 runs at 36.55. Hamza hasn't quite hit the heights of the 2017/18 season where he harvested 828 runs at an average of 69, while Malan scored 892 at 55.75.

Hamza wasn't worried about his lower run output.

"Yes, it's true that I haven't started off that well franchise- wise but I don't feel out of form and that's the difference. I still feel like I'm batting well and feel like I have a lot to offer," he said.

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