I (Martin) cannot heap enough praise on this South African side. Through a process of remorseless professionalism and incredible team discipline, the Proteas have marched their way up the world rankings until they now sit—uniquely—at the top of all three of the tables for the forms of cricket: Tests, One-Day Internationals (ODIs), and Twenty20s.
You don’t get to be the top unless you have genuine talent, but it’s the temperament of the players that strikes me as the crucial distinction. And no one has a better command of his skills or strength of mind than Hashim Amla, who has just become the fastest man to get to 3000 runs ever. He not only did this in twelve fewer innings than the next man (an astonishing record) but that “next man” was no less a swashbuckling crowd-pleaser than the great West Indies batsman Viv Richards. It would be hard to imagine two more different players: Amla, elegant, wristy, and recessive in personality; Richards, a brutally effective and florid strokemaker, with a swaggering personality to match. Yet, there is Amla: the best batsmen in ODIs and the second-best in Test matches, quietly commanding the heights and without a murmur slowly crushing the opposition to death.