South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar believes his team has improved beyond most expectations after it completed a comfortable 2-0 home series win over Bangladesh that was played without six of its first team regulars.
The side recently beat India 2-1 at home and also played out a 1-1 draw in New Zealand to record five wins from seven matches over the season, five of which were played against the two teams that contested the Test World Championship final last year.
“Not a lot of people would have given us those kind of stats at the start of the season, but it is great to have the numbers on our side. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that went into this,” Elgar told reporters after South Africa’s 332-run win over Bangladesh at St George’s Park on Monday.
“We are on the right path and doing things in the correct way. I’m extremely proud of the Test summer and the depth we have shown with regards to our selection pool, giving guys an opportunity so they can see what Test cricket is all about.”
IPL over country
The host had six players who opted to feature in the lucrative Indian Premier League over the Bangladesh series, and Elgar made it clear it was not certain all would return. They include batsmen Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen, and the pace quartet of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen.
“I can’t speak if those guys are going to be selected again, that is out of my hands. I can’t speak right now of combinations going forward,” he said.
“It is a great headache to have. You always want more options than none, and just by giving guys experience you create a lot more depth going forward. Our test side is in a very healthy position.”
He admitted to concerns about the batting department, which managed only two centuries all summer, both coming in the second Test against New Zealand via Sarel Erwee and Kyle Verreynne. “We need to notch up a few more hundreds. We know how much pressure you put on the opposition if you do that. Our batting is probably the one negative area. We are aware of it and are working bloody hard.”
South Africa next tours England from July to September and will also visit Australia over the New Year.