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Ken Borland

For Elgar, thumping win is reward for hard work & progress

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

For Proteas captain Dean Elgar, Friday’s thumping innings win over England in the first Test at Lord’s was maybe not the culmination but the reward for the hard work and progress made by the South African Test team over the last year or so.

The Proteas, with a fired-up Anrich Nortje leading the way with three wickets in two overs, bundled England out for just 149 in 37.4 overs to complete a crushing victory 20 minutes before tea on the third day, even though two-thirds of the opening day were lost to rain.

When Elgar was appointed Test captain in March 2021, the team was a rather rudderless one desperate for a turnaround. Since beating the West Indies 2-0 in the Caribbean, the opening batsman has led South Africa to top spot on the World Test Championship table with series wins over the likes of India and a drawn series against the defending champions in New Zealand.

“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I’d be in a press conference before 5 o’clock, so it was a special performance,” Elgar said. “It’s pretty big to do this on a sold-out Friday at Lord’s.

“It’s a good reflection of what we’ve done in the last year. I encourage the team to play every Test like it’s their last and we’ve played bloody good cricket when we’ve got it right, which is why we are number one.

“Everything has been a work in progress since I took over, but I’ve always felt that the basic core of the team had the fundamentals to be a world-leading Test side.

“We’ve obviously grown and we care for each other, we put the individual aside and focus on the team. Everything we’ve been through over the last year has happened for a reason,” Elgar said.

The straight-talking skipper acknowledged that his potent bowling attack certainly made his life easier.

“My margin for error is a lot bigger with four fast bowlers and numbers three and four are actually the fastest of them. But you still need sound game-plans, they need to know their roles and be able to adapt to different situations.

“Like on Day One, it was overcast but then the sun came out, but it was still the best bowling conditions and KG Rabada really brought it. He’s an absolute machine and he stuck his hand up.

“And then we have Keshav Maharaj, who is world-class, an absolute gun and brilliant to have in the team. But the attack is by no means the end product and I need them to want to achieve more.

“Then they could become a really special bowling attack. We’ve laid a pretty true, solid foundation for the team, nothing unrealistic, it’s all achievable. I definitely won’t allow us to go into a comfort zone,” Elgar said.

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