Bats­men al­ways in the fir­ing line

EL­GAR: GOOD BALL OR A BAD DE­CI­SION COULD COST YOU

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - SPORT - Ken Bor­land

De Bruyn forced to open, an ex­per­i­ment which failed dis­mally.

South African opener Dean El­gar said 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 then made 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 OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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.”

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

DEAN EL­GAR

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