Johannesburg - While Dean Elgar was happy to have time at the crease in the Four-Day Series to solve some technical issues, he is concerned about the limited number of first class matches being played in South Africa and the effect it is having on the country’s seam bowling.
The Proteas captain hit the winning runs in a 10-wicket victory for the Multiply Titans over the DP World Lions at the Wanderers on Sunday morning, and declared himself happy with his own form ahead of the tour to Australia. The 16-man South African squad departs for the three match Test series on Thursday.
“It’s been a nice three weeks of prep and getting the confidence back while working on some technical stuff. There have been little moments, where I could work on what I wanted to and so far so good,” said Elgar. He made his first century in a year last week and followed that up with scores of 55 and 25* at the Wanderers, where spin bizarrely dominated with Simon Harmer claiming match figures of 14/151.
Of his own form, Elgar said he had studied his play during the England series earlier this year and wasn’t happy with what he saw. “There were things I was doing in England that I never really used to do. Slowly but surely, I’ve gathered my thoughts, processed those and gone back to the drawing board, broken down my technique and worked on what I thought was a weakness and tried to make that weakness less of a weakness. I know when I’m getting into trouble and what I’m doing wrong.”
Having had three weeks of match time where he faced a mix of young and experienced bowlers, Elgar said he was worried about the standard of seam bowling at domestic level. “Personally, I’m concerned about the seam bowling. I think there’s been a lot of emphasis on T20 cricket in South Africa. I can see the bowlers - from a preparation perspective - aren't conditioned to bowl long spells or bowling a fourth spell for instance.”
“The bowlers’ standards are not where they should be and I think that's purely because the emphasis has been on white ball cricket, which is taking away the disciplines needed for four-day cricket,” Elgar explained.
The Four-Day Series consists of just seven matches this season and asked if that was sufficient to help bridge the gap between domestic and Test cricket, Elgar stated: “It’s not enough.”
He is pleased that besides his own form, some of the batters who are in the Proteas squad have performed well in the last few weeks. Kyle Verreynne has scored a half-century and a double hundred for Western Province, Sarel Erwee made 76 for the Dolphins in their rain-curtailed draw in Durban at the weekend, while Theunis de Bruyn made a century for the Titans on Saturday at the Wanderers.
“Kyle Verreynne went back and worked hard on his game, he’s scored a lot of runs which will obviously give him a lot of confidence going into a big series. In saying that Test cricket is Test cricket, what you do domestically in Four-Day cricket can’t be equated to Test cricket. The gap is far too big, but it can give you confidence going into a really tough series.”
Harmer’s form is especially welcome as it again gives the Proteas the option to play two spinners should conditions demand. “His numbers speak for themselves. He’s got a work ethic like none other. He wants to bowl all day. When he has the ball in hand he really dominates. It’s great having him in the Test squad, knowing he’s the back up spinner, just behind Kesh (Maharaj). It’s amazing to have those guys in your arsenal, knowing you can press their buttons and they come in, and can really do a job.
“It’s about strength in numbers. We are very fortunate that the Kolpak thing was taken away, so that those guys can become part of our resources. Harmy had a direct message, he had to come back and dominate domestic cricket to get selected (for the Proteas). It’s great to have those two spinners, Kesh being our No 1 ... but if the wicket looks dry you can play two spinners, which is good for us,” said Elgar.