Elgar comes‚ sees‚ conquers - but SA stumble

Dean Elgar of South Africa during day 1 of the 3rd Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at PPC Newlands on March 22, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dean Elgar of South Africa during day 1 of the 3rd Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and Australia at PPC Newlands on March 22, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Dean Elgar has seen it all‚ from the soaring peaks of massive innings to the plunging valleys of collapses‚ and all the other‚ lesser topographical features inbetween.

That’s what happens when you’ve played 49 tests‚ walked to the wicket 79 times‚ and scored 3 060 runs — you see a lot of stuff.

Like Elgar did at Newlands on Thursday in the throes of making 121 not out for South Africa on the first day of the third test against Australia.

“That’s the nature of test cricket‚” Elgar said. “For four hours a team can be dominant‚ for four hours the other team can fight back and the match can be in the balance.”

For the first four hours that team was South Africa‚ who went to lunch on 75/1 and tea on 185/2.

It wasn’t flashy but it was solid‚ and against an attack that sussed out early that they needed patience and discipline on a pitch that wasn’t going to give them much it was the right approach.

That left rather less than four hours in the day’s play‚ but it probably felt that long for Elgar as he saw teammate after teammate throw their wicket away.

Six of them were dismissed after tea for the addition of only 37 runs — four of them for seven runs — in some of the most thoughtless batting yet seen from a South Africa team that prides itself on mental strength.

Instead of ending the day satisfied at having hung tough to retain the advantage‚ South Africa dwindled to 266/8 before bad light forced the close three overs early.

The Australians bowled well‚ none more so than Pat Cummins‚ who took 4/12 in a spell of eight overs with the old ball. But they didn’t bowl well enough to take 6/37.

“You will be disappointed but it’s about what you do after you’re disappointed‚” Elgar said with a sagely shrug of the shoulders.

This being the kind of series it has been‚ Elgar’s press conference wouldn’t have been complete without a question about the quality of the sledging he had heard from the Australians.

“Stock standard‚” he said with that seen-it-all air. “It was just noise. Sometimes it was quite humorous.

“You are always going to have that competitive edge out there.

“We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of egos‚ which is good for the game.”

Elgar left the room and Cummins arrived to talk about his bowling.

But the first question put to him was about video evidence of him standing on the ball.

The incident happened where the pitch meets the outfield‚ and so in full view of the umpires — who Cummins said asked to inspect the ball and quickly decided nothing untoward had been done.

“It was obviously very unintentional‚” Cummins said with a disarming smile.

The footage shows Cummins kicking the ball lightly using his large right boot and then trapping it under his equally large left‚ near the toes.

Whether the ball so much as touched a spike under Cummins’ boot is uncertain‚ but if it did it did so not nearly as firmly as Kagiso Rabada’s shoulder made contact with Steve Smith’s at St George’s Park all that acrimony ago.

Move along folks. There’s nothing to see here. Especially not if you’ve seen as many things on a cricket ground as Dean Elgar.

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