The future is up to administrators making the right decisions for the players, says South Africa’s Dean Elgar

South Africa’s Dean Elgar plays a shot on the third day of the first Test cricket match between India and South Africa, at SuperSport Park Stadium.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Cricket will miss Dean Elgar. A tenacious opener, he served South African cricket for over a decade.

The second Test against India, starting at Cape Town’s picturesque Newlands Cricket Ground on Wednesday, will be his last. And he will be the captain for his swan song (he is standing in for the injured Temba Bavuma). It was as if destiny willed the opener to have this honour. Few men have held a cricket bat with as much pride and grit.

Elgar wants to go out on a winning note.

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“There is no bigger honour than to captain your country irrespective of who you are playing against, but being against India maybe adds a little bit more flavour to it because India are the powerhouse nation in the world,” said Elgar on the eve of his final Test match. “We currently see it as a great opportunity where I can influence and try and get a 2-0 win. It’s about taking those players and we are all moving in the same direction. So, hopefully, it all works out for us and we are able to secure a series win.”

Elgar isn’t thinking too much about the occasion. “For me, it is business as usual,” he said. “I think the emotions will only set in after this game. It is a massive Test for us, being our highlight of the year: the New Year’s Test at Newlands. For me, it is another game where we really have to make a solid start. We will worry about the retirement afterwards.”

He is, however, worried about the status of Test cricket in South Africa, though. The South African team that will tour New Zealand for a two-Test series has only seven capped players, because many of the stars are unavailable because of the SA20 tournament.


Elgar wants to finish his Test career on a winning note

The tenacious opener has admitted that he is a fanatic of the longest version of the game

He feels that the home-and-away Test series format has to be reintroduced

“Yes, the team for New Zealand is not ideal for the conversation of how I view Test cricket,” he said. “The situation we have been put in is not ideal. It is a little sad it has gone in that direction. What has happened behind the scenes is totally out of our control. It is out of the players’ hands, it is out of our coaches’ hands, the team management’s hands. Our guys need to be exposed more to playing against powerhouse Test nations. Our young guys need to be exposed to more Test cricket.”

He admitted he was a Test fanatic. “The future is up to administrators making right decisions for the players and the longevity of formats, especially the Test one,” he said. “As long as I am around, I am going to be a Test fanatic and I think a lot of our guys are Test fanatics.”

For Elgar, Test cricket is his World Cup. “Maybe only a World Cup win is bigger than Tests, but I have never had that opportunity, and this is my World Cup because it is my arena where I want to win,” he said. “That has always been my mentality ever since I was a young kid.”

Looking ahead to his final Test, he said: “It actually looks like a pretty good cricket wicket. Newlands has always been a place where if you apply yourself, you are going to do well. It usually does produce a really good wicket.”

About the way the young Indian batters struggled at Centurion, he said: “I think it was the conditions. If we were playing in India, we would have struggled. That is why the home-and-away Test series needs to still have a place. Playing in India is incredibly tough for new batters. A guy like Virat is vastly experienced around the world and he showed that he can bat in our conditions; he has done it in the past before; he has got a good record in South Africa.”

Like Elgar, another fine opener’s career is coming to an end. David Warner’s last Test for Australia, against Pakistan, also starts on Wednesday. The Aussie also plays cricket the hard way, like Elgar.

“Warner plays the game the way that he was brought up with. I play the game the way I was brought up with… a little more harder mentality and putting a massive price on my wicket,” he said.

Looking back at his long stint in international cricket, he said he didn’t worry about the numbers. “I care about wins, the series wins… they are the greatest memories that you can ever share with your team.”

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