Religion has improved his cricket: Amla
S Africa batsman Hashim Amla, a jovial character who is one of the comedians in the Proteas' dressing room, scored the most runs (663) at the best average (73.66) on the first class segment of the tour.cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2008 20:08 IST
South Africa batsman Hashim Amla attributes a highly successful tour of England this year to the influence of his religion.
Amla, 25, a jovial character who is one of the comedians in the Proteas' dressing room, scored the most runs (663) at the best average (73.66) on the first class segment of the tour.
"The importance of my religion has increased as I have got older," Amla told Reuters in an interview. "I couldn't put a time frame on it but I have found that following the Islamic way of life has a lot of beauty to it.
"Although I was born into a Muslim family I wasn't always practising. The more I have understood the differences in the various faiths I have adopted as much of Islam as possible.
"I'm certainly no saint but the discipline of the Islamic way of life has helped my cricket without a doubt. I don't drink, I pray five times a day, which gives stability to my daily routine and I am generally more disciplined about my game and my life."
The bespectacled Amla, who wears a long beard and often exhibits a shaven head, comes from a small town 40 kms north of Durban on South Africa's east coast. He was an avid sportsman from primary school on and enjoyed cricket, soccer, tennis and table tennis.
Amla was brought up in a predominantly Asian community and later went to Durban High School, where there was a fine sporting heritage.
His sporting aptitude won him a bursary after the first year and he eventually played schools cricket against current team mates AB de Villiers and captain Graeme Smith.
Amla is averaging 57 in tests since back-to-back centuries, against New Zealand last November, although he has been overshadowed by some of his better known team mates.
"Your profile is built on how the media sees you and I don't try to be somebody I am not," he said. "If I am seen as a quiet guy, all well and good, but I will just continue to be who I am.
"In cricket your circumstances change and it is key to remain constant whether you are up or down. I don't intend on putting on an act for anybody, this is basically who I am."
Amla has a quiet, dry sense of humour and thrives on the camaraderie in the team.
"I enjoy a bit of comedy and we have a few comedians in the team," he added. "With the intensity of cricket it's important you have characters to lighten the mood. You can't always be serious and intense all the time."