Dean Elgar: Positive mindset helps Proteas star cash in against India

Proteas opener Dean Elgar takes in the applause after going to his hundred against India.

Proteas opener Dean Elgar takes in the applause after going to his hundred against India. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Published Dec 28, 2023


Eleven years of Test cricket had to pass for Dean Elgar to get onto the SuperSport Park honours board with his very first century at his home ground.

It has been a decade of excruciating pain, a period that Elgar only met with bravery and guts.

From the time the Proteas left-hander made his debut Down Under against a fiery Australian pace attack led by the fearsome Mitchell Johnson, on a bouncy Waca pitch in Perth, Elgar has had to wear quite a number of deliveries on his body.

Yesterday was no different, as the Indian pace quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur extracted a lot of bounce off the Centurion pitch on day two of the first Test.

However, this time around, Elgar did not only show his gutsy personality, but also took the fight to the Indian bowlers with 23 boundaries for his unbeaten 140 off 211 balls, registering a strike-rate of 66, which is significantly higher than that of his career (44).

“Your mindset has to be the one of looking to score, but still compiling that with good defence and leaving the ball that is no threat to you,” Elgar said after the day’s play.

“We spoke about it yesterday. It’s definitely the wicket where you have to have the mindset of looking to score, and when you look to score, you get (yourself) into good positions as well.

“It’s a whole mindset that I took in. I had to get through to the lunch period, and after lunch, I came out with a little bit more of a positive mindset and capitalised on some balls that maybe back in the day I did not really capitalise too much on.

“In saying that, it was my day, and things went according to plan.”

As one senior player calls time on his Test career, new faces are establishing themselves in the Test arena as debutant David Bedingham and Tony de Zorzi, who is playing in only his second Test series, showed a lot of character against one of the best attacks in the world.

Both De Zorzi and Bedingham played with nothing but freedom, as if the Indian attack was not as good as they actually were yesterday.

Bedingham (56 off 87 balls, 7x4, 2x6) in particular, was mostly free-flowing, while De Zorzi (28), who came in at No 3, had to see off the new ball with an odd boundary here and there.

Elgar praised the two batters for their efforts as the Proteas ended day two in the driving seat on 256/5, with a lead of 11 runs with five wickets in hand after India were dismissed for 245.

“That partnership between myself and Tony (de Zorzi) was important. The ball was moving around and Bumrah was swinging it both ways and I thought Tony did really well to get through it,” said Elgar.

“Bedders (Bedingham), you’d think he’s a youngster that’s coming into Test cricket but I think he’s 28 or 29 now and has a lot of experience in the first-class game.

"He’s done well in South Africa and did well in county cricket as well. And in county cricket, wickets are not conducive for free-scoring players, but you could see that the guy is coming in with a lot of confidence as well.

“He played like he had 20 Tests under the belt... it wasn’t easy at all. You could see he was calm, and has a lot of experience playing long-format cricket as well.”