NINE minutes before the scheduled break for lunch yesterday, Hashim Amla leaned back to crack one of Marlon Samuels’ offerings through an increasingly porous cover field to end the test series.
With the sun-splashed picture postcard of Newlands forming a fine backdrop, SA beat West Indies by eight wickets to claim the series 2-0.
Minutes later, Amla accepted a cheque for $500000 (R5.8-million) from International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson – SA’s prize for cementing their No 1 ranking.
All good? Not quite. The last question put to Amla at his press conference was whether he had had any indication from Alviro Petersen about the struggling opener’s future.
“I think we’ll hear about that a bit later,” Amla said. Then the entire SA squad filed in and stood at the back of the room.
Except, that is, for Petersen, who took a seat at the top table to say: “I feel at 34 it’s time for me to retire from international cricket and to move on with my career.”
Petersen would remain on Cricket SA’s books until April 1, when his contract expires. He plans to continue playing franchise and county cricket.
Lancashire are understood to be on the verge of completing negotiations for a Kolpak deal with Petersen, who admitted he had been thinking about quitting “for six to eight months now”.
He told the SA team management of his decision after the second day’s play.
Petersen did not score a century in his last 25 completed test innings.
Almost four years ago, Petersen became one of then only four South Africans to have scored a century on test debut, and that in the cauldron of Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
With cruel symmetry, his career ended at the other end of that scale with what became the last ball of Monday’s play, which Petersen chopped onto his stumps. His score? Nought.
Even crueller symmetry is in the fact that No5 in SA’s century-on-debut club is Stiaan van Zyl, who has said he will open the batting for the Cobras for the rest of the season.
He made a solid start to his test career when he scored 101 not out against West Indies when he batted at No6.
Was Van Zyl the frontrunner to replace Petersen?
“Six months is a long time in test cricket,” SA coach Russell Domingo said with reference to the fact that SA’s next series in the format is in Bangladesh in July.
“We need to think long.”
Not much thought was required to complete yesterday’s victory. SA, who needed 124 to win, took 45 balls to add to their overnight score of 9-1. But once they did the runs flowed freely.
Dean Elgar eased to 60 not out and shared 73 with unflappable Amla for the unbroken third wicket. Petersen was, as he will remain, a spectator to all that.
– Telford Vice