Faf du Plessis says the Proteas batsmen need to sort out their century drought in Tests and need to learn from Dean Elgar’s approach.
In the last 12 months since the Australia series win in August, the Proteas top six have scored a combination of 13 centuries. Excluding Elgar, SA only managed nine centuries with Stephen Cook (2), Hashim Amla (1), Du Plessis (2), Duminy (2) and De Kock (2) making up those numbers.
Elgar’s century is South Africa’s first of the series and the first century by a South African batsman in 10 innings. The last time a player scored a century for SA was when Elgar scored 140 in the first innings against New Zealand in March.
Elgar who has scored four centuries and five half-centuries in his last 13 matches, has set the best example in scoring tons, but Du Plessis believes his batting lineup can get rid of their century slump in the final Test at Old Trafford.
‘Dean took that 100 monkey off our shoulders,’ Du Plessis said after the match.
‘Hopefully, the batters can respond well because he showed us how you need to bat in Test match cricket. It’s never easy, it’s about applying yourself, absorbing a lot of pressure, even at times when it’s really uncomfortable like Dean showed.
‘If you get through it, you will get an opportunity to get runs and put the team under pressure … he did that today. It’s good from a unit point of view that he did it today and we will try to make sure that we can do exactly what he did in the last Test.’
Elgar, who is the Proteas’ leading run-scorer this series with 286 runs including two fifties and a hundred, says the challenge of opening, along with the blows, is extra motivation for him to succeed.
‘It was brilliant, that is why you play the game,’ Elgar said of his battle with Ben Stokes late on day four.
‘As a kid you always witnessed it on TV and heard how the crowd sings along, you don’t get a better occasion like yesterday. You have to try and put it on your side, try to get motivated to be more stubborn and tighter in your game plan.
‘You can use it in your own game but it is a great occasion playing against a big-match player who is coming hard, it’s a great battle.’
The Proteas fourth Test against England will start on Friday at Old Trafford.
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