Stuart Hess at Imperial Wanderers
Painful as it is, Dean Elgar is happy to take blows to the body, if it helps his team to win, while it also elevates his status as captain in the dressing room.
The Proteas skipper produced an innings that ranks among the all time greatest Test knocks by a South African batter, scoring 96* to help his team beat India by seven wickets in the second Test here on Thursday.
“(Bowlers) should stop hitting me because I don’t seem to go out when they hit me. I draw on that pain. Some call it stupid, some call it brave. I like to see it as the latter.”
He’ll take those hits, especially when it means getting the team the kind of win it achieved against an outstanding Indian team. South Africa successfully chased 240, the highest target it has achieved in the fourth innings of a Test here, on a tricky pitch against an excellent attack, to tie the series.
Importantly as a new captain - this was Elgar fourth match as Proteas Test captain - Thursday will strengthen his leadership in the change-room.
“I like to see it as another influencing factor within our team. If I’m willing to put my body on the line, then so should everyone else. It is not a demand. Playing for your country you are expected to do that, irrespective of how you’re feeling and focus on the bigger task at hand, which is to try and get a win. Me getting hit, is just another article,” Elgar explained.
As magnificent as his performance was individually, this was a victory in which a number of players made valuable contributions. Marco Jansen took eight wickets, Keegan Petersen scored 62 in the first innings - a knock that must help to establish him at this level - Temba Bavuma made a vital 51 in the first dig, while Kagiso Rabada bowled a match changing spell on the third morning.
“On a pitch as challenging as this one, the little 60s, 50s, 40s all contribute in a big way.
“For Keegan - it’s important that he gained that experience and confidence with regards to his performance. I can only see him coming good from this achievement.”
Elgar was hesitant to claim this win as a turning point for his side. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
“We will still have a lot of challenging encounters coming our way - even in the next Test. We will be pushed to different boundaries and it is how the guys respond to that. I’d like to think it’s a massive positive move in the right direction, it will be a confidence booster for the players. We have a relatively young and inexperienced squad, guys who haven’t been in the Test arena for quite some time. We have to bear in mind that it is not always going to go our way, it won’t always go like we had in the second Test.”
It was a win for the ages and an innings for the ages too. “This is right up there,’he said about his second innings knock.
“It’s contributing in a big way to a win, which speaks a lot more than anything when it comes to personal gain or accolades. I was extremely glad that as captain I could be there at the end and lead us over the line. It was a do or die kind of Test for us. It’s up there, maybe top three in terms of influential innings’ I played for the Proteas.”