Proteas batsman Dean Elgar joked that he deserves a raise in pay for the punishment he receives as an opening batter.
Elgar has been labelled as a tough, bulldog-like batsman who, instead of gliding elegantly through an innings, simply grinds his way through every delivery. His 50 against Pakistan was yet another example of that approach to his batting. The opener faced 123 balls for his 50 before edging Shan Masood to Pakistan skipper and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
He has many times described himself as ‘not talented’ and has openly admitted that his approach is to grind his way through innings, and he reiterated this once again at the end of the first Test against Pakistan.
‘I think I make it look a lot tougher,’ Elgar said. ‘I think I give the bowlers a lot of false hope, and they’re like “I’m in here with Elgar, I can get him out”.
‘Obviously, I proved them wrong. But it was tough. Pakistan have really brought some very good seamers. It was hard work. It was right up there as another tough, but satisfying and successful day for us. But yeah, it could be a lot easier for us if we go with better batting wickets, which I doubt is going to happen.’
Being an opener is not easy, especially on a pitch like the one that was prepared at Centurion, where the bounce and trajectory of the ball was unnatural and difficult to track. He was in the firing line at the Wanderers against India on what was labelled a dangerous pitch, and that was where he took a nasty blow to his helmet and to his body.
Elgar joked that he and his opening partner, Aiden Markram, deserve incentives for being openers batting in South African conditions.
‘They need to triple my salary, and Aiden’s as well, because it’s hard work in South Africa,’ he joked.
‘It’s definitely the toughest place in the world to bat, I can vouch for that now. But that’s what makes the job so satisfying once you get through the tough times.
‘You look back at those tough times and you really enjoy them. The beer tastes a lot better, I can tell you that. It’s very rewarding when you get through those tough times.’
Elgar took a string of blows throughout the game, most notably two to his elbow, one on his inner thigh and one into his ribs. As always, he found himself in the trenches battling it out for the badge on his chest.
‘I might have an arm guard for the next game,’ added the Proteas opener.
‘We’ll just have to see what the wicket’s going to play like. But it’s ok. I’ve been hit there many a time in my career, and it’s never pleasant.
‘I know the guys in the change room appreciate the work I do, and that makes it heal a little easier. And it’s always nice to ice it with a nice cold beer knowing that we’ve won the game.’