Sport

FINAL INNINGS

Dean Elgar will fight one last time against India before retiring from cricket

Dean Elgar will fight one last time against India before retiring from cricket
Dean Elgar playing for the Titans on 11 October, 2023 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

Dean Elgar will retire from international cricket at the end of the two-Test home series against India that starts on Tuesday.

South Africa’s last link with the most successful era of Test cricket in the modern era, opener Dean Elgar, will end his playing career against India next month.

Elgar, 36, announced his retirement from cricket on Friday, just four days before the Proteas take on India in a two-Test series. As far as timing goes, it was like a pull shot off the toe of the bat.

But it also became increasingly clear that the Test side under coach Shukri Conrad, was set to move in a different direction. When Conrad was appointed as national red ball mentor earlier this year, he immediately appointed Temba Bavuma as Test captain, relieving Elgar of the duties.

It was a clear sign that the belligerent left-hander was on borrowed time. Elgar is set to play both Tests against India, but won’t be available for the tour to New Zealand after that.

Elgar made his Test debut in 2012 at a time when the Proteas were on their way to a series win in Australia and in the midst of their run as the best Test team in the world.

Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar playing for the Chevrolet Knight on 21 November, 2013 in East London, South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

Elgar batted at No 6 in that match in Perth and failed to score in both innings — a dreaded pair — falling to the left-arm pace of Mitchell Johnson twice.

It was an inauspicious start to what eventually became a quality career, which was in many ways a metaphor for his fighting spirit and his refusal to give an inch.

Elgar has amassed excellent numbers, especially as a host of star batters — Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Jacques Kallis retired while he was at the other end of the crease. For many of his 84 Tests, he was the senior player.

Since making his Test debut almost 12 years ago, he has scored 5,146 runs at an average of 37.28, including 13 centuries and a career-best 199 against Bangladesh in 2017.   

His contributions with the bat and gritty performances earned him the role of Test captain from May 2021 to January 2023, where he led the side to third place in the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship with a notable 2-1 series win over India at home in January 2022.  

Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar of South Africa in action at The County Ground on 22 August, 2012 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

That series denied India the last significant milestone — winning in South Africa.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas’ glorious Indian summer finally delivers some good news for the sport with emphatic win

“It will take a few days to sink in, but I couldn’t be prouder of this group,” captain Dean Elgar said after that series win in January 2022.

“We were put to the sword at times in this series, and I asked the players to respond in a better way, and they did.

“If you want to operate at a high-performance level, you have to have tough, hard chats and guys have to respond. If they don’t like it they have to deal with it. I’m quite old school like that, with a new school twist. I laid down some challenges to senior players and asked them to stand up, and they responded.”

That summed up Elgar perfectly. He was always willing to fight.

Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar playing for the Titans. (Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Dream  

“Playing the game of cricket has always been a dream of mine but having the opportunity to represent your country is the ultimate,” Elgar said in a statement on 22 December.

“Having had the privilege to do it for 12 years internationally is simply beyond my wildest dreams. It has been an incredible journey that I have been fortunate enough to have.  

“As they say, ‘all good things come to an end’, and the Indian home series will be my last, as I have made the decision to retire from our beautiful game. A game that has given me so much. The Cape Town Test will be my last. My favourite stadium in the world. A place where I scored my first Test run against New Zealand and hopefully my last too.”

Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Enoch Nkwe praised Elgar’s contribution to the game.

“Dean Elgar represents a rare brand of cricketer in an age where everything is about innovation and power-hitting,” Nkwe said. “He is a real old-school cricketer that can dig in, absorb and fight.

“I have no doubt the game will dearly miss him. He has always given everything for his country and never showed any fear, no matter the opposition. He was always there to take on the challenge, leading as captain when the country needed him most.” DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Frankie Ford says:

    Always a battler. My respect for the fight he showed. He represented South Africa with pride.

  • Steven Burnett says:

    Proteas about to send a C team to NZ for the test tour in February. Elgar one of the only senior test players not contracted to SA20, and was very vocal about the situation. Quite a loss for the Proteas not to have him there, interesting move by Elgar to jump off the ship before it gets into murky waters.

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