Johannesburg: The first cricketer of Indian descent to make it to the South African national team, Hashim Amla says he feels strange when people ask how he feels whenever he plays against the country where his grandparents were born.
"My grandparents came from India, but I am South African. I chuckle when I`m asked how I feel playing against India. It`s a bit strange," Amla said.
"Other players whose parents or grandparents came from overseas are never asked how they feel when they play against England," said Amla who has been named in the South African squad for the Test series against India starting on December 16.
Amla received a deep-tissue bruise on his left forearm after being struck by a cracking shot when close-fielding against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last month but the doctors have assured him that he will be alright before the Test series against India.
Amla said he was impressed by Sachin Tendulkar`s longevity in international cricket while maintaining form but said his cricketing idols were Brian Lara, Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis.
"Lara was really flamboyant; you`d pay to watch him play," Amla said of the former West Indian captain.
Amla said Waugh`s appeal lay in his determination.
"He had a great attitude. If he was beaten by a good ball, he`d just smile," Amla was quoted as saying by `The Times`.
As for Kallis, Amla said it`s an honour to be in the same team.
"When we were younger, we all admired Jacques` batting."
Amla`s first Test was against India in Kolkata in 2004, where he scored 24 and 2 and was criticised for a flawed technique.
His return to India last year saw him put the bowlers to the sword as part of the sublime form that has seen him rise in the rankings.
During the series in the United Arab Emirates, Amla became the first cricketer to score more than 1000 runs in Tests as well as 1000 in ODIs in the same calendar year.
"I`m really happy to be having the sort of season I`m having now. But when you put it in perspective, it`s only important if you can continue to perform well.”
"I always remind myself to look at the bigger picture, because it`s easy to lose focus. If you look at the best players, they`ve played well over a whole career, not just one year," said Amla suggesting that form is temporary but class is permanent.