If selected for the third Test at the Wanderers against Pakistan, Zubayr Hamza could become South Africa’s 100th Test cap since readmission.
The 23-year old top-order batter is brimming with confidence and excitement at the prospect of donning the Proteas shirt.
Following the suspension of South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis and a thigh bruise injury to opening batsman Aiden Markram, as many as two spots could be available in the top-order batting line-up for the hosts.
Waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit is a new name to South African international cricket, a youthful Hamza.
Born and raised in the picturesque city of Cape Town in South Africa, the young batsman grew up idolizing Hashim Amla, with whom he might share a dressing room if he is selected in the starting XI.
I have been leeching as much information as I can about what it takes to perform at this level
AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis are also on the list of players he looked up to in his early years with the bat. He thrives on simplicity and applying the uncomplicated methods that have served him well up to this point.
Commenting on the prospect of walking out with his childhood heroes on Friday, 11 January, Hamza said, "I haven’t received confirmation if I am playing or not."
"If given the chance that would be great, I have really enjoyed my time so far, the training has been intense and everyone has been welcoming. I have felt comfortable in the team surrounding, if given the chance I am looking forward to it. There is a lot of excitement at the moment."
In a little over two years, the right-handed batsman has played in 52 first-class matches and has scored good runs for his franchise side, the Cape Cobras, with consistency.
It has seen him average nearly fifty (49.29), a feat that has attracted the attention of the national team selectors. Hamza has scored nine hundreds in domestic first-class cricket thus far but has not got a chance to add to that tally this season with three half-centuries and a decent 31 at the ground he stands to debut on.
Hamza took some time off in the run-up to the Pakistan Test series, exempting himself from the inaugural season of Cricket South Africa’s Mzansi Super League (MSL T20), a newly-launched Twenty20 franchise tournament.
"The month off gave me perspective and I focused on working on myself and on my game", he explained. "I have been batting well. I have been training well with the world-class coaching staff that we have here, I have learnt a lot so far."
The young batter feels that he has been gaining an immense amount of valuable knowledge about the game since his inclusion in the squad at the start of the Test series.
GRATITUDE:— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) January 8, 2019
As @OfficialCSA, we would like to take a moment to say a HUGE THANK YOU to the large crowds that came in support of the Proteas over the course of four days during the PPC Newlands Test 🎉🏏🙏🙌
"That's Our Game" 🏏#ProteaFire🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/Wl5hUt5INZ
“I have learnt a lot from every individual in the team, whether it is on the field or off the field,” he said. “For me, I’d like to stay true to myself and stick to the game plans that have got me to this position. I will try to be self-confident and have self-belief.”
Commenting on how he has been preparing for his imminent Test debut, Hamza said, "I have tucked under a few guys' wings so far, I have been leeching as much information as I can about what it takes to perform at this level, but I have also combined that with my own mixture to try and perform as an individual."
South Africa will play the third and last Test of the series against Pakistan at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday and will look to make a clean-sweep, after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the victory at Newlands.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!