The tri-series is yet to kick off, but South Africa's Hashim Amla is already dominating chatter in cricketing circles here. But Amla is not in the team for the tournament-and the talk, unfortunately, is for entirely non-cricketing reasons. Yet again.
Within days of former Aussie batsman Dean Jones referring to him as a "terrorist" on live TV, Amla, a coloured cricketer with a prominent beard, is faced with a fresh racial slur.
According to reports, a huge advertisement hoarding for an electronics company called Copy Type Electronics on a highway in Johannesburg read: "Thank goodness Amla didn't face a coolie kreeper." During apartheid, the word "coolie" used to be a common derogatory reference to South Africans of Indian origin.
The word is banned now.
The company has since disowned the ad, saying an employee had put it up without authorisation. It has also apologised to Amla and the public. The reaction from most people has, however, been of outrage, and Cricket South Africa has said it was in "very bad taste".
The incident comes even as the earlier (Jones) issue continues to simmer. Australian papers have reported that Jones borrowed the term "terrorist" from Amla's South African teammates here. South Africa's team spokesman Gordon Templeton said the reports were "rubbish".
"The whole team is upset about it but the players have moved on. Such is life," Templeton said. He added Amla's father had forgiven Jones for the remark.