Amla key for South Africa - Hussain

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Former England captain Nasser Hussain believes Hashim Amla holds the key to South Africa enjoying a fruitful Test tour against Joe Root's men.

Amla entered the sides' meetings in South Africa last year searching for form but was supreme throughout the series, scoring 470 runs at 67.14 - including a majestic double-hundred in Cape Town.

Once again Amla will face the English perhaps with something to prove, having registered just one Test century in the past 12 months and struggling badly in New Zealand earlier this year.

With captain Faf du Plessis missing the first Test at Lord's and AB de Villers absent for the entire red-ball schedule, the pressure is on for Amla, but Hussain has backed the former Proteas skipper to shine.

"He's right up there alongside Jacques Kallis," Hussain told Omnisport. "You look at his record in one-day cricket, he was the fastest to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, whatever, he just breaks every record. 

"Twenty20, he goes off to IPL and gets Twenty20 hundreds. Remarkable story. 

"I was there, his first game we were commentating on and I think it might have been Port Elizabeth or something. There was a whisper of, 'he's only being selected because of quotas, etc,' he had his big whirly backlift, like the Jim Furyk of the cricketing world, but boy does he know how to bat. 

"He's like Kallis in as much as, when he's in that bubble, he ain't giving his wicket away. He'll bat for his life and he'll bat long. 

"He's got double hundreds, triple hundreds. He's played brilliantly in England. If you ask me, the one wicket England will want desperately this summer will be Hashim Amla."

Proteas legend Barry Richards backed up Hussain's claims, but highlighted the added pressure Amla will be under to shine without significant back-up.

"He's a great player, he's been one of the architects of our batting along with Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers," Richards told Omnisport. 

"That was the triangle, or you could make it four of them with Graeme Smith. They've provided the backbone over 10, maybe 12 years. 

"He's been very much part and parcel. It's going to be added pressure, there is no Kallis, no Smith and no AB de Villiers. Suddenly your four-sided becomes one-sided. 

"That's a little bit of added pressure for Hashim.

"He's a little bit older as well. How he responds will determine how well South Africa do. 

"There's no disputing, he's been one of the great players of South African cricket and world cricket for that matter."