Amla ecstatic with record knock
A joyous Hashim Amla admitted he exceeded his own expectations with his record innings of 311 not out at the Kia Oval.
South Africa’s number three batted for more than 13 hours in a 529-ball tour de force that saw him replace AB de Villiers as the holder of his country’s highest Test score.
Amla, who shared mammoth stands of 259 and 377 with fellow centurions Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, the latter remaining unbroken, also became the first South African to crack the 300-mark as the Proteas racked up 637 for two.
A tea-time declaration on day four left England with a first-innings deficit of 252 and Andrew Strauss’s side subsequently slipped to 102 for four at stumps.
A grin was never far from Amla’s face during his post-match press conference, in which he said: “I’m happy, surprised and obviously really excited that I managed to do something that’s never been done before by a South African.
“I didn’t dream about getting 300, although you would love to. I’ve always been a person who never sets goals and I think that helps, because you can keep going and going without being limited.
“The biggest pleasure is that the team is in a really dominant position to win this Test match; I think that’s the biggest joy.
“But from a personal perspective I’m really happy and just grateful that this opportunity has fallen on me.”
Only Sir Don Bradman and Brian Lara have managed more runs in a single Test innings against England than Amla, who revealed he had not considered the possibility of making a triple hundred until the latter stages of his marathon stay at the crease.
“With my scoring rate, 300 is usually a very long way off,” he said before bursting into laughter.
“It only really crossed my mind when I got to 250 and myself and Jacques started scoring freely. There were a lot of fielders back, so we could run ones and rotate the strike and I think that kind of helped.
“I was involved in the game when AB got 278 (against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2010), so I was aware of that, but if I had got out before then, so be it.
“I’m a firm believer you have just got to keep batting. I’m just really grateful that I managed to get the highest score by a South African, but what is perhaps more pleasing is that I’m the first guy to get 300 – records will be broken, there’s no doubt about that.”
Amla is now hoping South Africa can press home their advantage on the final day.
“We’ve got six wickets to get; I think you would rather be in our changing room without a doubt, but let’s see how the first session goes,” he said.
“I think that’s going to be important, as it has been in this Test match. Our bowlers have bowled really well tonight to ruffle the feathers of the English team. They got the ball to talk a bit. Hopefully we can do some good things tomorrow.”
Amla also paid tribute to another South African who enjoyed sporting success today; golfer Ernie Els claimed his third Open Championship title following a dramatic finale at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
“We just walked into the changing room and we heard the news that Ernie has won,” Amla added.
“Some of the guys know him personally and are extremely happy, and we all as South Africans are extremely chuffed that somebody who has been an ambassador for the country has again made the country proud. He’s a fantastic sportsman.”