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Ken Borland

Batsmen can bank on being unsettled – Elgar 0

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Ken


South Africa opener Dean Elgar said on Thursday night that the one thing a batsman can bank on at international level is that your head is always on the chopping block following what he described as the “unsettling” axing of his opening partner Stephen Cook for the last Test against New Zealand.

The Proteas returned to Johannesburg on Thursday night after rain spared them the likelihood of defeat on the final day of the third Test, allowing them to win the series 1-0, but there are still rumblings over the controversial decision to drop Cook, who scored only 17 runs in four innings but had made three centuries in his previous nine Tests.

Theunis de Bruyn was then forced to make his Test debut as a makeshift opener, without success.

“We had a good thing going but selection is out of the players’ control, it’s one of those things. It’s not easy for Stephen, I’ve been through it before and you can go into a dark place. The team has still been winning though, so it’s very difficult, especially when you know how much hard work he has put in and he’s a massive team guy.

“But the general thing with batsmen is that if you think you’re safe, you’re not. Your head is always on the chopping block and a good ball or a bad decision could cost you your spot. It’s unsettling that a guy like him can be left out when he’s been working his butt off,” Elgar said at O.R. Tambo International Airport upon the team’s return.

South Africa’s success – they won the T20, ODI and Test series – in New Zealand on pitches that closely approximate the conditions they will find in England for the Champions Trophy and a much-anticipated Test series, suggest they are on track to do well on that tour in mid-year.

“We feel we are nicely set up for England having won all three series, which doesn’t happen often in New Zealand,” assistant coach Adrian Birrell said. “Obviously we’re all gearing up for the Champions Trophy and the fact that we won the ODI series 3-2 by winning what was like a final at Eden Park will be good going forward.

“Conditions were probably closest to what we will find on the England tour, there was always seam movement but not excessive bounce, which is what we expect in England. We’ve used various combinations and we have an idea for what works. We’re particularly pleased that all-rounders came to the fore and that batsmen in the lower-order were winning us games.”


Elgar stars but not enough to prevent Dolphins being favourites 0

Posted on January 01, 2016 by Ken

Dean Elgar was the star of the third day of the Sunfoil Series match between the Unlimited Titans and the Dolphins at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday, but his heroic century was not enough to prevent the visitors going into the final day as favourites.

Elgar scored a defiant 122 that carried the Titans to 261 all out in their second innings, but that leaves the Dolphins with just 177 to score on the final day for a win that would keep their title hopes alive but will all but eliminate the North-Eastern Gauteng side from contention.

The national opener and fellow left-hander Qaasim Adams added 138 for the fifth wicket and seemed to have given the Titans a good chance of setting the Dolphins a daunting target on a pitch that is offering both steep bounce from a length and some deliveries keeping low.

But the lanky Calvin Savage ended Adams’ brilliant counter-attacking 72 when he had him caught behind in the eighth over after tea and then added the important scalp of David Wiese, also caught by wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk, for a duck.

Mangaliso Mosehle also failed to score, Mathew Pillans bowling him fourth ball, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj trapped Marchant de Lange lbw for six.

The Dolphins pacemen are all tall, strong lads who hit the deck hard, which is ideal for a pitch with inconsistent bounce, but it was leg-spinner Daryn Smit who eventually removed Elgar, trapping him lbw after a 343-minute stay that just proved the mental strength of the 27-year-old.

*The bizhub Highveld Lions, who lead the competition by 17.24 points with two rounds left after this weekend, are in a strong position heading into the final day of their match against the Chevrolet Knights in Bloemfontein.

The Knights are 76 without loss in their second innings, but they still trail by 117 runs after the Lions scored 441 in their first innings.

The Lions were unable to separate openers Gihahn Cloete (33*) and Reeza Hendricks (38*) in the 27 overs before stumps, but the Knights will nevertheless be up against it in trying to survive against the attack that has earned the most bowling bonus points this season.

The Lions total was built around a punchy century by Neil McKenzie (108), with Thami Tsolekile scoring 48 as they took their fifth-wicket partnership to 85, before off-spinner Werner Coetsee (five for 78) and paceman Duanne Olivier (four for 94) counter-punched for the Knights.

*In Cape Town, Omphile Ramela celebrated his 27th birthday by batting for 403 minutes and posting his first Sunfoil Series century, his monumental 129 leading the Nashua Cape Cobras to 545 all out against the Chevrolet Warriors.

The visitors are in serious trouble with a first-innings deficit of 257, but openers David White (20*) and Michael Price (58*) played with a gravitas suiting the situation as they took the Warriors to 88 without loss at stumps.

Justin Ontong (82) and Justin Kemp (73) were the other main run-getters for the Cobras on the third day.

Elgar shows enormous class to lead Titans into final 0

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Ken

Dean Elgar produced an innings of enormous class as he scored a century to lead the Unlimited Titans into the Momentum One-Day Cup final with a 58-run victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins in the playoff at Kingsmead on Tuesday night.

Elgar came to the crease in the third over with the Titans in trouble on eight for two, and he mastered a poor pitch as he batted through to the final over, scoring a priceless 100 off 130 balls, with eight fours and a six.

The left-hander spent most of the innings just keeping the Dolphins attack at bay, as their attack made use of a deteriorating pitch that not only provided sharp turn, but also grip and uneven bounce for the seamers, but he received tremendous support from David Wiese, the Titans blazing 109 runs in the last 10 overs.

Chasing 268 batting second was always going to be a tall order for the Dolphins, who paid the price for gambling on a pitch that was more suited to the final day of a Test than a limited-overs knockout game.

The Titans, combining aggressive pace bowling with cunning seam and spin, performed brilliantly in the field, bowling the Dolphins out for 209 in the 45th over.

The Titans had earlier won the toss and elected to bat first, and the nature of the pitch was shown when the Dolphins used spinner Keshav Maharaj to bowl the second over.

The left-armer removed the Titans captain, Henry Davids (2), with his fifth ball, the batsman failing to clear the infield with a lofted drive.

The other opening bowler, Robbie Frylinck, then had Theunis de Bruyn (4) caught in the slips in the next over, bringing Elgar to the crease.

The Dolphins soon suffered a couple of killer blows with all-rounder Ryan McLaren, who passed a fitness test on the morning of the game, re-injuring his hamstring and having to leave the field in his fourth over, and Elgar then being dropped on 18 as an off-balance Cameron Delport put down a relatively straightforward chance at backward point off Andile Phehlukwayo.

Despite a poor fielding effort – four catches went down in all – the Dolphins bowlers were not relaxing the pressure they exerted and Jacques Rudolph and Elgar had to work exceptionally hard to add 78 for the fourth wicket in 19.4 overs.

Batting was not a simple task with the ball seaming, turning sharply, sometimes bouncing, sometimes keeping low and often stopping in the pitch.

Rudolph scored 39 off 69 balls before Maharaj claimed a superb return catch to dismiss him, but Elgar is one of the most determined cricketers in the country and one could almost sense him vowing not to get out before the Titans had a decent total on the board.

Qaasim Adams was trapped lbw for 11 by Maharaj and Albie Morkel (24) was just getting into his stride when he was dismissed by Andile Phehlukwayo during an impressive spell by the 18-year-old.

But Elgar and Wiese then added 92 runs during a match-changing 54-ball spell which saw the Dolphins fielders wilting and the bowlers pitching too full on a wicket which rewarded balls that were banged into the surface.

The powerful Wiese was dropped before he got off the mark by Daryn Smit at slip off the aggressive Phehlukwayo, and the Dolphins paid heavily for that as the all-rounder blasted five fours and five sixes in an explosive 71 not out off just 33 balls.

The late assault rather ruined the figures of Phehlukwayo (10-0-64-1), Maharaj (10-0-50-3) and Frylinck (10-1-45-2), but they were the best of the Dolphins bowlers.

Chasing such a large score batting second was always going to be a daunting task for the Dolphins, but truth be told, they made life harder for themselves through poor shot-selection.

Playing cross-batted shots on a pitch with inconsistent bounce is always risky, and Morne van Wyk (12), Cameron Delport (0), Khaya Zondo (72) and Phehlukwayo (2) were all caught pulling or cutting.

Zondo showed what an exciting talent he is with his wonderful innings of 72 off 87 balls and while he was at the crease, there was still danger for the Titans.

But JP de Villiers is bowling with increasing confidence and good pace these days and he bounced out both Zondo and Phehlukwayo in the batting powerplay and there was little hope for the Dolphins after that.

While De Villiers finished with three for 34 in nine overs, there was an equally impressive return of three for 35 in eight from Junior Dala and Morkel was also very handy, taking three for 33 with his seamers and cutters.

The spin bowling for the Titans was left in the hands of Tabraiz Shamsi and Elgar and they both went for a run-a-ball.

Every chance is precious in a knockout game and Davids took an exceptional one-handed reflex catch at slip, with wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle diving in front of him, to remove the in-form Vaughn van Jaarsveld for 15 off the bowling of Dala.

Elgar not bothered by former team-mates’ plans against him 0

Posted on December 09, 2014 by Ken

The Chevrolet Knights travel to Centurion today to take on the Unlimited Titans, whose key batsman Dean Elgar says he is not going to give a second thought to what plans his former team-mates might have for him when they visit SuperSport Park for their RamSlam T20 Challenge match.

That’s because the left-hander is comfortable that he has his plans in place and that was shown clearly last weekend when he opened the competition with a superb 72 off 48 balls against the Cape Cobras in the triple-header at the Wanderers. Elgar struck just two fours but cleared the boundary five times to prove what a versatile batsman he is, coach Rob Walter describing it as “a quality innings that might have surprised a few people”.

The incumbent Test opener told The Citizen yesterday though that whatever work he has done on his batting has been more mental and strategic than anything else.

“Playing the Knights is just another game for me, the Titans are my team now although I’m still friends with guys from the Knights. I don’t care about their plans against me because I’ve worked on my options and what I have in the bag should be sufficient. SuperSport Park is also usually a great batting ground, so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m now a lot more specific with my batting in a game, I know better what is required in the different situations and I have proper game plans against the various types of bowlers. People don’t always expect me to bat like I did, because they see me as a one-format player which ticks me off,” Elgar said.

Elgar, who was the Titans’ best bowler as well with three for 20 in four overs, and fellow opener Henry Davids gave the Titans the perfect start in pursuit of a daunting 208 against the Cobras, adding 151 off just 96 balls, but they still ended up losing by 14 runs. Beating the Knights is all that matters for Elgar whatever his personal contribution.

“It’s going to be a very tough task against them, obviously, but we’ve put in a lot of hard work and talked about a few areas of our game. Those words now have to be put into practice and we have to start winning because the Titans are a brand that has always led South African cricket.

“It was nice to do well personally against the Cobras, but it didn’t mean anything because we lost, especially from the position we were in. I’d rather not perform and the team still wins,” Elgar said.

While the Titans batsmen are largely doing their bit, the bowling has been messy and they may turn to the unorthodox spin of Tabraiz Shamsi in tonight’s game.

There is a vacancy in the attack with Rowan Richards unavailable as he attends a family funeral and former SA U19 star Corbin Bosch has been added to the squad. It’s only prim and proper that he gets a look-in given the excellence of his limited-overs bowling skills.

“The bowling has been frustrating. We were poor against the Cobras despite our preparation being so specific and we had clear plans. A lot depends on the balance of the team and the surface, but there’s definitely space for the sort of bowler who can turn the ball both ways, so Shamsi is certainly in our plans,” Walter said.

The inclusion of the 24-year-old would give the Titans a powerful spin attack of Roelof van der Merwe, Elgar, Shamsi, Henry Davids and Graeme van Buuren, as well as three seamers in Ethy Mbhalati, JP de Villiers and Darren Sammy.

Just as Elgar would prefer not to be pigeon-holed as a one-dimensional batsman, he would also prefer to be considered as a package cricketer with his under-rated left-arm spin. His economy rate in 45 T20 matches is just 6.53.

“I actually think that Dean is a highly under-rated bowler, the stats show that he is a serious short-form spinner. That was a game-changing four overs from him against the Cobras and Roelof is also a master of his art, seriously skilful,” Walter said.


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