After a horror series for Dean Elgar, the South African captain has admitted his is fed up with the batting weakness that was ruthlessly exposed by Australia over the course of three Test matches. Elgar averaged just 9.33 runs for the series, with Australia's bowlers targeting a flaw in his technique when batting off his hips.
The Proteas skipper, a 10 year Test veteran, said it was jarring to be in such a position after having long established himself among the premier batters in international cricket. But he refused to elaborate on the cause of the emerging shortfall in his game, despite telling reporters it was not a 'form thing' and instead referring to 'other aspects' affecting his game.
Pat Cummins' rising delivery aimed at his hips during South Africa's second innings marked the fourth time in the series he was caught by wicketkeeper Alex Carey after glancing one through. Despite the less of his wicket, South Africa were able to hang on for a draw on day five.
“I can accept once, maybe twice, but the third time is something that highly irritates me,” Elgar told reporters of his struggles with leg side dismissals. “It’s something different for me. Generally you have a way of going out and bowlers target that. This is obviously something new and 10 years into a Test career, it’s foreign territory for me.
“It’s something to potentially reflect on and you can either say it’s s*** luck or not. I’m going to have an open mind around it and have a look.”
Australia was left with a 2-0 series win following victories in Brisbane and Melbourne, but still denied them the perfect Test summer that would have guaranteed a spot in June's final at The Oval. It means Australia need to win or draw one of the four Tests in India to qualify, or else rely on New Zealand not losing both games to Sri Lanka in March.
Tasked with taking 14 wickets on the final day after almost two days were lost to rain, Australia were met with their firmest resistance of the summer on Sunday. They took until after lunch to wrap up the tail in South Africa's first innings of 255 and enforce the follow-on, as only Josh Hazlewood (4-48) could get through lower-order batters Simon Harmer (47) and Keshav Maharaj (53).
But by then the hosts had conceded most hope was gone, with Cummins' dismissal of Elgar in South Africa's second innings the one wicket taken with the game still realistically live.
Dean Elgar pleased with Proteas fight to end third Test
An inexperienced South African batting lineup struggled to deal with the battle-tested Australian pace attack, but Elgar said he was pleased with the outcome of the third Test. The 35-year-old said it was good for several players to get experience playing down under.
“The message to the group yesterday was to fight it out on day five,” Elgar said. “Only three or four guys have played here before, so there are a lot of learnings. It is a tough place to tour, maybe the toughest in the world.
“Test cricket teaches you resilience. When things aren’t on your side, you still have to wake up and try again. We could lie down and let Aussie roll us here and create a little more embarrassment. Or we could go out and fight on day five."
The Sydney wicket did not break up as they expected given the rain, but Ashton Agar's wicketless 22 overs as Australia's second spinner will be a point of contention.
Cummins confirmed after the Test Agar would be in the squad for India, but whether Australia play with a second spinner or rely heavily on part-timer Travis Head will be considered.
"I'm sure Ash will be there," Cummins said. "This wicket was a lot different to India. It wasn't really spinning out of the middle. I thought he did really well."
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