JOHANNESBURG – For one who’s long been categorised as a “red ball only” cricketer, Dean Elgar relished the opportunity to show there are far more strings to his bow yesterday.
“Who would have thought that? It’s a nice way shut people up, I guess,” Elgar said after he’d inspired the Tshwane Spartans to a crucial four-wicket win against the Jozi Stars with a wonderful unbeaten 79 (52b, 5x4, 4x6).
Elgar does not take kindly to be pigeon-holed as a one-format player. He’s not always the most attractive player but he’s mighty effective and too many times viewers and commentators have used his “stickability” at the crease against him.
The 31-year-old has played 51 Tests but just eight ODIs and believes he’s been worthy of more of a chance in the shorter formats at the highest level.
“I think one person has had something particular to say and now everyone goes with it because he’s a (so called) ‘expert',” said Elgar.
“It leaves a bitter taste in a player’s mouth when those kinds of things are said. It’s disappointing because a lot of players are then limited in their careers because of that. I think it’s bulls*** to have someone pigeon-hole a player and then have everyone go with it. It’s very unfair.
I don’t box myself (as a red ball player) and that’s the only person that matters. I don’t really care what the critics have to say about it, it’s about how I feel about my game. I’ve always been a white ball player, that’s what I played growing up.”
His direct opponents concurred. Pite van Biljon, who made a sparkling 42 off just 13 balls as the Stars posted 186/5 in their 20 overs, said Elgar had for a long time been an outstanding limited overs batsman.
“It’s not a surprise to me what he did today; he backs his game, he knows his game and executes very well.
“In this format, guys tend to look at strike-rates, but go back to the start of his career at the Knights, and he was the guy responsible for taking the team deep and that’s maybe why his strike-rate is not as high as it could be. But it shows what he can do if there are batters around him who can take the game away.”
The win lifted the Spartans off the bottom of the Mzansi Super League log and will give their dressing room a much needed boost ahead of a vital game on Saturday against the tournament leaders the Cape Town Blitz.
The Stars badly need a positive result having now lost three out of their opening four games.
“I don’t see Friday’s game as a must-win for us; it’s more a case of must execute,” Van Biljon said. “There are some experienced players in our team and everyone is still very calm.”
The Stars play the Durban Heat at the Wanderers tomorrow (7pm).@shockerhess