By his own lofty standards, Hashim Amla is out of form.
And it’s no coincidence Australia have the upper hand in the current Test series.
Amla has been the cornerstone of South Africa’s imposing batting order for the majority of his career, a perfect mix of panache and patience.
He has scored over 6,000 Test runs and plenty against Australia.
When the most recent series in 2012 was decided in Perth after two preceding draws, it was Amla who notched a sterling 196 in the second dig that put the visitors en route for a big win.
His Test average is 50.91 overall and 57.81 in Australia – a pointer to how freely runs had come from the 30-year-old.
But no longer.
With Mitchell Johnson trapping him plumb lbw for a duck in Port Elizabeth on Thursday, Amla has posted scores of 10, 36, 4, 3, 17, 35 and 0 from his past seven Test innings.
Prior to South Africa’s home series against India in December, the last time Amla failed to post a half-century in consecutive Tests was June 2010 on a fruitless tour of the West Indies.
Then, Graeme Smith made 371 runs in a comfortable 2-0 series win and it didn’t matter.
Now, Amla is second to AB de Villiers as the best batsman in the hosts’ side and they desperately need him and Smith to stand up.
It’s too early to say Australia have worked out the right-hander, but if he doesn’t post a big score soon it’s unlikely the hosts will win this series.