POTCHEFSTROOM – A day of contrasting fortunes for Dean Elgar ultimately ended in frustration.
There was annoyance at missing out on a landmark with the bat and irritation about his continuing troubles at slip, where he missed two chances on Friday.
Ultimately, his twin misses of Mushfiqur Rahim didn’t prove too expensive.
He does have some major credit following his more than nine-hour marathon with the bat, but the nature of this pitch, coupled with Bangladesh’s sturdier character than on previous tours here, means South Africa can’t afford to be charitable.
To deal with the catching first – it’s been a problem since England, where Elgar missed a few chances in the slips, which in the final Test in Manchester proved to be very costly.
On Friday he dropped Mushfiqur on six – a chance he should have taken – and then completely missed the ball when the Bangladesh captain again edged Keshav Maharaj this time when he’d scored 15.
Mushfiqur was eventually dismissed by Maharaj for 44, but there’s no denying it’s an area of concern for the Proteas that needs resolution soon.
Elgar said afterwards that Hashim Amla, who fielded at slip to Maharaj in New Zealand earlier this year, no longer wanted to field there.
Elgar put his hand up, and it appears no one else wants the slip position to the spinner. It’s challenging, Elgar admitted.
“The wicket is quite slow, and originally we thought we had to get closer; the first one, it’s as if the ball is increasing in pace off the wicket when the spinner’s bowling and it reacts differently when the seamers bowl.
“I’m pretty sure it’s got to do with the way Kesh bowls because he puts a lot of spin on the ball, and then the ball sometimes generates pace off the surface as a result,” said Elgar.
“With the second, after a discussion with Quinny (de Kock), we felt I should come closer... it’s not every ball, it’s inconsistent.”
Elgar won’t admit to a technique problem, but perhaps positionally, there needs to be more work done between him, Maharaj and De Kock.
“Blunders happen, it doesn’t make you a cr*p cricketer. I set myself very high standards, and I’m not performing up to those,” said Elgar.
The missed catches added to the personal disappointment he’d suffered in the wake of becoming the 10th player to be dismissed on 199.
“We haven’t had a big score recently as a team. I’ve been working hard at my game and it was my day-and-a-half to try and get the team in a good position and personally get a good score. But it’s one of those things, I’ll have to deal with it,” he said in typically phlegmatic fashion.
Amla scored the last double hundred for South Africa in the 2016 New Year’s Test at Newlands against England.
This year Elgar has made four hundreds and is Test cricket’s top scorer for 2017, not that he’s bothered by that accolade. “I play for my teammates,” he remarked, “not for that kind of thing.
“We’ve had a rough few tours as a batting unit... it was up to a senior player to put their hand up and take the batting unit by the throat.”
Elgar reckoned the pitch will only get harder to bat on, and there is no prospect of South Africa enforcing the follow-on. They will be chasing early wickets on Saturday and then look to build an unassailable lead before inserting Bangladesh again.
Maharaj will be key. “(The pitch) requires a very sub-continental style of play. (Maharaj) has been vital in every Test series he’s played.
“He uses the facilities really well, he spins the ball hard, so the odd one will spin and the odd one skid on, as we saw with the bat/pad catch.”