'Bulldog' Elgar bats himself into record books

Dean Elgar (Gallo)
Dean Elgar (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Dean Elgar's 86* in a losing cause against India at the Wanderers on Saturday was one of the most courageous Test knocks you will ever see. 

Having taken countless blows to the body, fingers and even one to the grille of his helmet, Elgar simply wouldn't back down on a wicket that was, at one stage, deemed too dangerous for play to continue. 

That didn't stop the man captain Faf du Plessis later referred to as "our little bulldog", and together with Hashim Amla (54), Elgar put South African in a position where they would have backed themselves to pull off one of the most remarkable run chases ever seen in this country. 

In the process, Elgar became the first South African in history to carry his bat twice in Test cricket.

It may not have been a century, and it may not have been a South African win, but this will surely be one of the most satisfactory knocks the 30-year-old has ever played. 

He simply wouldn't go away, and all of this while he was playing on a wicket that made batting impossible at times. 

To make matters worse, Elgar was the victim of heavy criticism on social media on Friday night when some felt that he was 'milking' the difficulties that came with batting on the pitch that ultimately led to play being called off for the day. 

He was also given a fair amount of stick from the Indian fielders, but with every chirp and every blow, Elgar got mentally stronger.

He is one of a rare breed of batsmen that thrives when conditions are at their toughest, and this innings showed just how valuable an asset he is to the South African cause.

"Being knocked is not the worst thing I’ve ever been through in cricket," he said after the match.

"It is something that gets me a little feisty out there and it does create a tenacious aspect which I try and use to my fullest.

"If you’re getting into my personal space it’s something I quite enjoy, especially when I’m out there and people are telling me how crap I am, which is fine. It gets me going."

Where the likes of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram were all at sea throughout the Test, Elgar confirmed that you don't have to be the classiest looking player in the world to make a massive impact on the Test stage. 

He proved that in 2015, when he carried his bat for a knock of 118* in South Africa's innings of 214 against England in Durban. 

Part of what makes Elgar so successful is that, with years of batting behind him, he knows his own game.

"I’m not going to change the way I play. My strengths are to be solid, leave the ball well and irritate the opposition," he said.

"I can’t go out there and play an AB de Villiers knock, so if you’re looking for that then you need to look elsewhere because I’m not going to be able to do that.

"I’m not going to be able to play a Hashim Amla knock because those are special cricketers, but what I do have is potentially something totally different and what they don’t have.

"I think that’s a great make-up for our Test side. We’ve got guys who can grind it out, we’ve got guys who have the ability to come in and play special knocks."

With the bruises making it look like he had played a Test for the Springboks rather than the Proteas, Elgar never lost his sense of humour.

"It would be awesome if I was a little bit more talented like those guys," he joked.

"If you get hit, laugh it off. You can’t be throwing your toys out your cot because you’ve got a job to do."

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