Fewer Test butterflies for Elgar
The less-pressurized environment of a dead-rubber Test in familiar surroundings will allow stand-in captain Dean Elgar to take in the flavours of Test captaincy.
When he did so as a stand-in during the first Test of the 2017 series against England at Lord’s, Elgar admitted the occasion had got to him and things had become “chaotic”.
With the series sewn up ahead of the third Test against Pakistan starting at the Wanderers on Friday, Elgar said he intended to enjoy the responsibility while not forgetting the job at hand – beating Pakistan to secure a rare Test series whitewash.
“That occasion was quite hectic. I was running around all over the show at Lord’s, doing the presser that had a lot more reporters,” he said.
“That was quite an intimidating factor, but I’m a lot older now and I’d love to think that I’ve learnt a lot more.
“Dealing with the press and journalists in SA is a breeze compared to the UK.
“It’s less hostile, if I can put it that way. I just need to take it in and enjoy this experience because I don’t know when I’ll ever be doing this again,” Elgar chuckled.
“We’ve got the series in the bag, but there’s still a massive goal for us going into this Test.
“We still want to drive home the final nail, which I think we deserve because we’ve played some really good cricket throughout the series.”
Elgar steps into Faf du Plessis’s boots as the regular captain sits out because of a onematch suspension incurred at the second Test at Newlands because of a tardy over-rate.
Du Plessis’s absence necessitates a change in the team lineup, with Zubayr Hamza set to make his Test debut in the middle order.
Elgar said there was a possibility for whoever replaced Du Plessis to bat in his direct spot instead of shuffling around the batting order.
Aiden Markram, who sustained a thigh injury that prevented him from batting in the second innings of the second Test, has been declared fit enough to start.
“I don’t think we’re going to shift around our batting lineup too much,” Elgar said.
“We’ve also got a good headache where we can go for the four-seamer option and rip out those wounds that are already open in the Pakistan team or go for our reliable spinner in Keshav Maharaj.
“He’s been good for us and if we revert to the three-seamer option, then he fits in.
“To win, we have to put out our best side and we feel in the Wanderers conditions, which generally aid fast bowling, to change that formula is going to be a big call.”
The playing surface has also come under scrutiny recently, but Elgar has already given it a thumbs-up.
While Wanderers has been famed for its pace and bounce, the pitch prepared for 2018’s Test against India had the ground thrown into the dog box by the International Cricket Council.
It incurred a three-demerit penalty from the ICC for a poor pitch and two more demerits in the next four years will see the ground earning a 12-month suspension from hosting international cricket.
Elgar carried his bat in the second innings of that Test – an unbeaten 240-ball 86 – but SA still lost the game by 63 runs.
“Of late here we’ve had a few indifferent and dodgy wickets, if I could say that.
“However, this one does look like a good wicket. Hopefully we can have a good wicket with some good pace, bounce and carry to assist our seamers. It might be a bit slow on day one,” Elgar said.
“I looked at it quite a lot and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t. I [usually] don’t even look at the wicket because I’m not the captain, but it looks like it’s going to be a good cricket wicket.” –TimesLIVE