Dean Elgar said that poor fielding cost the Proteas dearly and ultimately contributed to their crushing 211-run defeat to England on Sunday.
The Proteas had the hosts on the ropes after the first session of day one, but the lifelines handed to Joe Root allowed him to flay the bowlers for 190, an innings which changed the complexion of the match.
‘Moving into day one there were two or three occasions where we could have had a lot less runs against us, and if you break down the game it’s definitely going to look a little bit better for us and ultimately make our challenge a little bit easier in the fourth innings’,’ Elgar told Michael Atherton at the post-match presentation.
‘I think if you break it up it’s maybe over 200 runs that we didn’t have to maybe get if things went our way and we took our chances, but it’s professional cricket and quality players are going to make you pay if you make those errors, and we just need to work a little bit harder on those, and be a little bit harder on ourselves as individuals and take it from there,’ he added.
The Proteas made a sensational start to the day, claiming seven wickets in the morning session. Elgar said that as the wickets started to tumble, he began to believe that the tide was turning in the Proteas’ favour. Once again however, the English tail wagged and the last two wickets came at the cost of 61 runs.
‘Definitely [high hopes during England’s collapse], I think anything under 300 would have given us a good shot. The late runs with the last two wickets in hand that they had definitely pushed it over the boundary a little bit. We knew it was going to be a challenge and it just didn’t go our way,’ he said.
Elgar also touched on Vernon Philander’s crucial dropping of Jonny Bairstow on five as a critical moment in the game.
‘You can break this game down in so many ways at the moment. Obviously what happened earlier today, it’s not an intentional action by the player, but yes if you look at it like that it is quite a big moment in the game,’ Elgar said.
Looking ahead to the second Test at Trent Bridge, the interim skipper believes that while Kagiso Rabada will be missed as he serves a suspension, there is an opportunity for his replacement to have an impact.
‘He is a big player within our ranks with the ball and he a adds a little bit of a different dynamic with regards to the aggression in our bowling attack.
‘So losing him is a big thing, but again it’s an opportunity for someone to come in and put their hand up and make a big play for us, but it’s going to be a tough loss for us,’ he said.
Elgar concluded by dispelling any fears over Philander’s availability for the second Test after he was struck on the hand during the Proteas’ first innings.
‘I’m pretty sure Vernon is fit, he bowled this morning and appears to be pain-free, it just looks like when he’s batting it’s a little bit sore, but a lot can change in five days and hopefully he pulls through,’ Elgar concluded.
The second Test begins at Trent Bridge on Friday.
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images