JOHANNESBURG – Dean Elgar is known for calling it as he sees it.
So, when he opined that this final Test of four battles has been ‘odd’, everyone pricked up an ear.
All this nice-ness, the politeness and the pretence of peace – it has been unusual for some out in the middle.
“I have played against Australia before, and this has been the most docile it’s been. I don’t think it will last,” Elgar smirked.
It (the politeness) certainly will not have the staying power of Elgar at the crease, who defied his way through 215 dot balls in an innings of such stick-ability that he never looked like he would depart.
Elgar, however ugly, slow or boring he may appear to those outside the boundary, had a job to do for his team.
He killed time to give his ailing bowlers a rest, all the while watching his captain make an increasingly fluent century and demoralise an Australian team who are already beaten.
Not for Elgar are the highlights, though he has already claimed that he has the moment to remember.
“I think my catch was definitely the highlight of the series!” he said of his over-the-head stunner to close the Aussie first dig.
There was little argument there, because the roar to greet his diving effort of glee can still be heard at The Bullring.
Indeed, such is Elgar’s popularity amongst the people – sozzled or not – two fans stopped the action in the final session to run across the field and shake his hand.
Indeed, the series has reached a level of politeness that sees pitch invaders opt to keep their clothes on, and offer sincere handshakes to the likes of Elgar. This nonsense surely can’t last!
The ensuing chase from a team of security guards that would fail the end-of-season fitness test was awkwardly entertaining, as a series of sidesteps and a nifty move around the sightscreen confused the hapless bibs of orange.
Back on the field, mounting fears that South Africa’s attack would be led by Temba Bavuma and Keshav Maharaj were assuaged by Messrs Rabada and Philander.
The former shook off a back niggle, while Philander’s tender groin was wrapped tight enough to allow him to bat, and then bowl with freedom.
Then Morné Morkel somehow found the energy to sideline his side strain from a day before, to return gritty figures of 2/18 in eight overs that defied the pain barrier.
No one can say that the big fella didn’t leave it all out on the field when he calls it a day on Tuesday.
The Proteas will rise in search of seven more wickets, while the Aussies will be looking to finish a tough old week with a sense of pride.
“Yeah, we will probably try to earn an honourable draw, because chasing 450 in a day might be a bit tricky,” Joe Burns smirked at a scribe who pondered on the obvious.
It has been a long summer, but it is all finally coming to an end. So, the show will go on for one day more.