El­gar aims to learn as stand-in for Faf

Wan­der­ers pitch looks good as the Proteas pre­pare for a rare Test se­ries white­wash

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Khany­iso Tsh­waku

The less pres­sured en­vi­ron­ment of a dead rub­ber Test in fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings will al­low tem­po­rary cap­tain Dean El­gar to take in the flavours of Test cap­taincy. The last time he did the job, in the first Test of the 2017 se­ries against Eng­land at Lord’s, El­gar ad­mit­ted the oc­ca­sion got to him and things be­came “chaotic”.

The less pres­sured en­vi­ron­ment of a dead rub­ber Test in fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings will al­low tem­po­rary cap­tain Dean El­gar to take in the flavours of Test cap­taincy.

The last time he did the job, in the first Test of the 2017 se­ries against Eng­land at Lord’s, El­gar ad­mit­ted the oc­ca­sion got to him and things be­came “chaotic”.

With the se­ries sealed ahead of Fri­day’s third Test against Pak­istan at the Wan­der­ers, El­gar said he in­tends en­joy­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity while stick­ing to the task: beat­ing Pak­istan for 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. 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 … [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 said.

“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 to rightly do be­cause we’ve played some re­ally good cricket through­out the se­ries.”

El­gar tem­po­rar­ily steps into Faf du Plessis’s boots as the reg­u­lar cap­tain sits out be­cause of a one-match sus­pen­sion in­curred in the sec­ond Test at New­lands be­cause of a tardy over rate.

Du Plessis’s ab­sence ne­ces­si­tates a change in the line-up with Zubayr Hamza set to make his Test de­but in the mid­dle or­der. El­gar said there is a pos­si­bil­ity that who­ever re­places Du Plessis will bat in his spe­cific place 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 mean­while been de­clared fit to play.

“I don’t think we’re go­ing to shift around our bat­ting line-up too much.

“Our play­ers have earned their spe­cific and re­spec­tive po­si­tions. Who­ever comes in for Faf [at No 5], will be a di­rect swap,” 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 we can 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 that gen­er­ally aid fast bowl­ing, to change that for­mula is go­ing to be a big call,” he added.

The play­ing sur­face at the Wan­der­ers has come un­der scru­tiny re­cently but El­gar has al­ready given it the thumbs-up.

While the Illovo-lo­cated cricket cathe­dral has been famed for its pace and bounce, the pitch pre­pared for the 2018 Test against In­dia had the ground thrown into the dog box with the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC). It in­curred a three-de­merit penalty from the ICC for a poor pitch. 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. 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 don’t even look at the wicket when I’m [not] lead­ing be­cause I’m not the cap­tain but it looks like it’s go­ing to be a good cricket wicket.”

/Lee War­ren/Gallo Im­ages

Big re­spon­si­bil­ity: SA coach Ot­tis Gib­son and stand-in skip­per Dean El­gar in dis­cus­sion on Thurs­day on the eve of the third Test against Pak­istan at the Wan­der­ers.

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