Zubayr Hamza’s ‘journey of learning’ comes full circle in New Zealand

Proteas batsman Zubayr Hamza is back from the international wilderness. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Proteas batsman Zubayr Hamza is back from the international wilderness. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Published Jan 25, 2024


There is a little over a week to the start of the much-anticipated Proteas tour to New Zealand, where the two countries will go head-to-head in two Test matches in the new cycle of the World Test Championship.

Despite the lack of Test-match experience in the touring squad, the Proteas are going to unfamiliar territory looking to come back home with points in the bag.

And despite the lack of familiar faces and established players in the squad, the qualities of South African cricket, which include resilience, are still a part of each member of the squad, according to batter Zubayr Hamza.

“Yes, the facts are facts … A lot of us have not played international cricket, and there’s not a lot of knowledge with regard to international cricket. The only way to experience it is by playing and gathering as much knowledge as you can,” said Hamza.

“With regard to the directive given from the coach, it’s been pretty simple in that we are South Africans, and naturally we are proud individuals. And as a team, we’ll be resilient and try our best to get as many points as we can.

“As much as this has been a series that’s been littered with name tags, it’s also seen, from our perspective, as an opportunity.

“We’ve had quite a few chats, including the coaching staff, about what we aim to achieve in this series.

And like I said, the team has had a tag, but we strongly feel that that hasn’t played a massive role in our thought processes going into the series.

“We’ve built quite a strong chemistry and camaraderie within the set-up, and (we know) there’s opportunities on the horizon.”

The last time Hamza put on his Test cap was in New Zealand, about two years ago, just before the stylish batter was banned for doping and went on to serve a nine-month ban from the sport.

However, the right-handed batter has put in the necessary work and got big runs on his return to play, and is now in line to put his Test cap on once again during the coming series.

“It’s been quite a while since I’ve been a part of the national set-up.

“It’s an exciting time for me, and it’s been a journey full of learning,” said Hamza.

“There’s obviously been a mental shift. Spending time off the pitch, as everyone knows, has just created eagerness to get back on the park and perform.

“I’ve been finding a lot of enjoyment from playing this season, and that’s a result of hard work over the past year and a bit – and I’m seeing the fruits of my labour now.

“I’ve been enjoying my cricket, and I feel like I’m batting well,” he added.

The squad will play a three-day warm-up match next week at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval before the first Test of the series starts at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on February 4.

Proteas Test Squad

Neil Brand (captain, Titans), David Bedingham (Western Province), Ruan de Swardt (North West), Clyde Fortuin (Boland), Zubayr Hamza (Lions), Tshepo Moreki (Lions), Mihlali Mpongwana (WP), Edward Moore (WP), Duanne Olivier (Lions), Dane Paterson (WP), Keegan Petersen (Boland), Dane Piedt (Knights), Raynard van Tonder (North West), Shaun von Berg (Boland), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins).