The Knights left-hander is on the verge of becoming a Test regular following the retirement of Graeme Smith and he has a first-class average of 43.69 and a List A average of 37.61, plus a strike-rate of 110.15 with a great average of 38.96 in T20 cricket.
“Dean is the kind of player we need at the Titans, he’s gutsy, well-respected in South African cricket and he gives it his all. He’s a helluva player in all three formats, but especially in four-day cricket. At the moment we’re playing guys who are averaging in the 20s, which is not what we want. Dean is a special player and he gives us lots of options,” Faul told The Pretoria News yesterday.
And it would appear to be a good bet that Elgar hits top form for the Titans because Smith’s absence has now given him the chance to cement a regular place for himself in the national team, as evidenced by Cricket South Africa’s decision to give him a contract once the Test skipper retired.
“If he performs at our level then he will become a permanent fixture in the national team. But he must do well for us first and I believe he’ll be fresh, hungry and wanting to prove himself. He’s wanted to come here for a long time and he’s one of the guys who has always been keen to play for his franchise,” Faul said.
While the 26-year-old Elgar is a high-quality signing that will make a real difference to the Titans team, the ambitious franchise did not stop there and also targeted fellow Proteas Ryan McLaren and Quinton de Kock.
McLaren – who Faul complimented on his “honest” negotiations – has been confirmed as a Dolphins player for next season, while De Kock is most likely to remain as a marquee player for the Titans’ Gauteng rivals, the Highveld Lions.
“Obviously we wanted to strengthen the squad but franchises do make counter-offers and sometimes guys are not as serious about moving as they say,” Faul said.
The Titans are also in negotiations with Jacques Rudolph,who wants to be considered as only a limited-overs player next season, and Faul was optimistic that there would be a good outcome, describing the left-handed top-order batsman as “another special player”.
Seamer CJ de Villiers has been sent on his way, while paceman Junior Dala, currently on loan from the Lions, will be joining the Titans full-time next season.
Other high-flying youngsters being rewarded with improved deals are batsman Graeme van Buuren (rookie contract) and Tukkies star Theunis de Bruyn (semi-pro).
Despite the hype around SA U19 captain Aiden Markram, the batsman will have to make do with a contract from the University of Pretoria for the time being.
“Aiden is a very talented young player, very level-headed and smart, and the sort of guy we want to hang on to. But we literally don’t have space because we’re only allowed to contract a certain number of players. We have other former SA U19 stars like Murray Coetzee and Theunis at Tukkies and my best advice to Aiden is to stay patient,” Faul said.
Other big-name moves in franchise cricket include Lions spinner Eddie Leie moving to the Knights, along with Cobras T20 star Richard Levi, and Dolphins left-arm seamer Mthokozisi Shezi possibly going to the Cobras.