Focused man: Hashim Amla wants to concentrate on a series win over Australia, which would be the first at home since SA’s readmission to international cricket. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
Focused man: Hashim Amla wants to concentrate on a series win over Australia, which would be the first at home since SA’s readmission to international cricket. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

While it may be lost in the midst of the ball-tampering storm that has engulfed the series, Hashim Amla is fully aware that SA are on the cusp of history should they beat Australia in the fourth Test that starts on Friday.

Australia’s ball-tampering case has quite deservedly taken centre stage and shifted focus away from the fact that SA are on the verge of winning their first Test series against Australia since readmission.

Because of their six-wicket and 322-run triumphs in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, the Proteas have fought back from the deflating 118-run defeat suffered in the first Test in Durban.

That match is less remembered for the result and the reverse swing obtained by Mitchell Starc and more for the stairwell fracas between David Warner and Quinton de Kock.

Former captain Steve Smith has also paid the price for his role in the ball-tampering matter with a year’s ban of his own, while Cameron Bancroft has accrued a nine-month ban.

Amla is not the gloating type, but knows it would be folly of SA not to be ruthless against an Australian side that in the past would have stuck the boot in fully with a series lead.

"We know how hard cricket is. It’s a tough sport and there’s so much that goes on behind the international scenes.

"When things like these happen, we definitely feel sympathetic towards a person who has made a mistake and now has to pay the price," Amla said.

"We feel for the guys who found themselves in hot water.

"We’re also very motivated because SA have not won a series against Australia at home since readmission. There’s a lot for us to play for because at the start of the series that was the motivation because we want to be the first team that can achieve this milestone.

"We’ve played relatively good cricket, not our best, but good cricket to be 2-1 up in the series. For us it’s about the cricket and with us being international, professional sportsmen, this is what we do."

Like the departed Australian trio, the Wanderers itself is in a spot of bother because of the surface that was served up during the third Test between SA and India in late January.

The International Cricket Council censured the ground and with Australia’s potent bowling attack, a doctored pitch would not be something that should be on the menu.

In any case, there is too much on the line for both teams and on varied wickets at St George’s Park and Newlands, SA adapted better, played the smarter cricket and won the big moments.

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