It’s an open and shut case at the top for Elgar and ‘Cooky’
DEAN Elgar doesn’t mind that he’s not a flamboyant opening batsman. Nor does he mind that he and Stephen Cook are a “throwback” opening partnership that doesn’t fit modern cricket’s fast and furious tastes.
“What our team needs now are mature heads and wiser cricketers at the top of the order,” said Elgar, who was named Man of the Series after scoring 308 runs in the three Tests against Sri Lanka, including a century and two fifties.
He and Cook shared their first century stands as openers and have, for the foreseeable future at least, secured their spots at the top of the South African Test order. “There will be a time when you must knuckle down and graft and there’ll come a time to score a bit freely and then you might be in the same mould as (Australian) Dave Warner, but he’s a totally different cricketer to myself and Cooky.”
Indeed, but the Proteas need grafters Cook and Elgar together after the selectors and coaching staff realised the error of their ways in sticking too long with Stiaan van Zyl as an opener.
Cook and Elgar average 37.92 together as an opening pair; not earth-shattering, but when you consider the pitches they played on in the series against Sri Lanka and the new-ball bowlers they’ve faced in the last year – Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and the best that Suranga Lakmal has bowled in his life – it’s not a bad result.
“You’ve got to have a quality opening partnership if you’re going to be a quality Test team and we are heading in the right direction now,” said coach Russell Domingo.
“Stephen and Dean have a good thing going at the top, they compliment each other really well, they are gutsy, gritty players. They way they played on that first morning (at the Wanderers) was wonderful. They only put on 45 but it felt like a hundred because of the nature of the wicket.”
And the nature of their personalities means the pair enjoy each other’s company, too.
“He’s a funny cat,” Elgar chirped about his partner. “We can crack a joke and there’ll be a good response. Also you don’t have to say a lot out there. I’ve known Cooky for many years, which is a saving grace for us.”