Amla, despite being a reluctant captain in the past, will lead South Africa’s Test team on a daunting tour of Sri Lanka next month and Klusener, who knows the new skipper well from his time with the Dolphins, is optimistic that Graeme Smith’s successor will prosper in his new post.
“Hashim will bring a lot of calmness, he has a smart head on his shoulders and he’s fairly innovative, he’s not scared to try things.
“But most importantly, Hashim has a lot of respect internationally, which is important as a captain. It means the opposition don’t see the captain as a point of weakness,” Klusener said.
While Amla’s previous captaincy experience – a season in charge of the Dolphins in 2004/5 in which he averaged 54.38 in the four-day competition, scoring three centuries, including a superb 249 in the final against the Central Eagles – provides a clue as to whether the extra responsibility will affect his batting, Klusener said this was the only remaining question to be answered.
“The biggest question is how it will affect his game because he’s been reluctant to lead in the past. It’s a small question but it’s the most important one because he needs to prove he can do both jobs together. Someone like Morne van Wyk [current Dolphins captain] lives for that and that’s what I’d like to see with Hashim, that he can handle both being a key batsman and the captain on the highest stage.”
One of Amla’s imminent tasks will be getting the right team balance for the first Test starting in Galle on July 16 and Klusener said there were warning bells in this regard.
“We’ve been caught out in the past playing two frontline spinners. I know it’s tough for quick bowlers over there, but that is our strength. Is playing two spinners our best attack? Sometimes even when the pitches are dusty, you should play four pacemen and rely on them to get swing.
“We must play our best attack – do you field two average spinners or two good seamers, remembering too that Sri Lankan batsmen play spin very well,” Klusener warned.
“If the pitches are turning then inconsistent bounce can also be a massive factor. I would like the other spot to go to someone who can bowl 140-145km/h and will get reverse swing and inconsistent bounce,” Klusener said.
It seems the national selectors are leaning towards JP Duminy being the second spinner, leaving South Africa with the option of playing a specialist batsman at number seven or four pacemen and leggie Imran Tahir.
Klusener, who played 49 Tests and 171 ODIs in a stellar career, added he was also concerned that South Africa now had several captains – Amla in Tests, AB de Villiers in ODIs and Faf du Plessis in T20s.
“We have three captains and I would prefer just one but there are obviously demands on the body and that person’s time. But it must be easier to keep a handle on things if there is just one or maybe two captains.
“The other players are left wondering ‘does this other captain back me, where do I fit in under him?’ It does create some instability.
“I only had one captain at a time and I think it worked great,” Klusener added.
Whatever question marks still remain about South Africa’s new era, one thing that is certain is that Amla will bring tremendous conviction to his new role as captain.