Hashim Amla, one of South Africa’s greatest-ever batsmen, has announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday.

Amla made his debut for South Africa against India in Kolkata in 2004. He played 124 Test matches for the Proteas, scoring 9282 runs. He also played 181 ODIs, and was a prolific opener, finishing with 8113 runs.

It’s the second high profile retirement in a week of transition for South African cricket. Earlier, Dale Steyn announced that he is done with red-ball cricket.

Amla’s last game for South Africa was at the 2019 World Cup, where he made an unbeaten 80 against Sri Lanka.

He will continue to be available for domestic cricket as well as the Mzansi Super League, reported ESPNCricinfo.

“I learnt many lessons during this incredible ride, made many friends and most importantly shared in the love of a brotherhood called #proteafire,” Amla is quoted as saying.

Amla, 36, hit 55 international centuries, including South Africa’s highest Test score when he struck 311 not out against England at The Oval in 2012. He hit 28 centuries in Tests and 27 in ODIs. His Test tally included four double centuries.

Amla said he thanked “the fans for energising me when times were tough, and for celebrating with me when we succeeded together”.

In the same season he played in two matches of South Africa’s home series against England but was dropped after scoring only 36 runs in four innings.

Some critics believed that his backlift, which took his bat out at an angle of close to 45 degrees, was a flaw which would prevent him from having a successful international career.

He modified his technique, although still retaining a distinctive loop in his backlift, and returned to Test cricket 15 months later with his first century, 149 against New Zealand.

He became an ever-present in the South African team.

His early struggles were recalled in a tweet by former team-mate AB de Villiers.

“So many doubted you early on, but your fighting spirit, humility and incredible one of a kind talent took you to the top of the mountain,” said De Villiers.

Initially regarded as a Test specialist, Amla only made his one-day international debut in 2008 but soon proved that classic stroke play, mainly as an opening batsman, was as effective as power hitting in the limited overs game.

When he was at the peak of his career, between 2010 and 2016, he had an average of above 50 in both Tests and one-day internationals, while maintaining a scoring strike rate of better than 90 runs per 100 balls in one-day games.

In recent years, though, Amla’s form dropped off and he struggled at the recent World Cup in England and Wales.

His last Test century was in October 2017 and he made only two one-day international hundreds after that date.

Amla captained South Africa in 14 Test matches between 2014 and 2015/16 but seldom appeared entirely comfortable in the role.

His captaincy career started promisingly with three series wins, including one in Sri Lanka, but after a difficult tour of India in which South Africa lost three of four Tests, he resigned as captain midway through a home series against England when South Africa were 1-0 down after two matches.

(With AFP inputs)