Elgar rubbishes allegations of Proteas' 'overboard' sledging: 'Maybe they need to harden up'

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Umpire Adrian Holdstock keeps Dean Elgar and Ebadot Hossain away from each other. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
Umpire Adrian Holdstock keeps Dean Elgar and Ebadot Hossain away from each other. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
  • Proteas skipper Dean Elgar has rubbished Bangladesh's allegations that the South Africans went "overboard" with sledging during the first Test at Kingsmead. 
  • He gave the assurance that the players used no foul language and also didn't intentionally intimidate rookie Tiger opener Mahmudul Hasan Joy.
  • Elgar suggested that the Bangladeshis might have to harden up mentally to cope with the demands of the format.

Dean Elgar has emphatically dismissed Bangladesh's allegation that the Proteas' conduct during the first Test at Kingsmead amounted to "overboard" and "deplorable" sledging.

South Africa's feisty skipper even went as far as suggesting that their opponents, whom they face again in the second and final skirmish starting in Gqeberha on Friday, simply lacked the mental steel to deal with the demands of the format.

"I don't think [the allegations] are justified whatsoever, especially towards the SA side," Elgar said on Thursday.

"We play the game hard and if anything, we were just giving back what we were getting when we were batting. This is Test cricket. In this context, it's a man's game at this level and I intend to play this game hard."

READ | St George's Park: A ground of feast or famine for the Proteas

However, with modern TV broadcasters giving supporters and stakeholders an unprecedented, even voyeuristic level of coverage of what's happening on the field, there's no room slipping up when it comes to behaviour that can be regarded questionable.

That's why Elgar continues to tell his team-mates not to go over the top.

"By no means did we swear or use foul language towards the Bangladeshis because we still respect them. Maybe they need to harden up and play the game at a level that they're maybe not used to. This was just about us retaliating and not standing back," he said.

"One of my messages was that we need to still do things with dignity. We don't throw our badge, our name away. I honestly didn't see or hear any bad sledging from us and even from the Bangladeshis' side. This is Test cricket."

One of the Tigers' more pertinent claims - which resulted in official correspondence being written to the ICC - was that the Proteas deliberately put 21-year-old opener Mahmudul Hasan Joy under immense extra pressure through field placings and verbals when he came out to bat again following his superb first innings 137.

But Elgar swatted those suggestions aside as well.

"There are a lot of things you don't see. You have to bear in mind that there are many incidents off-camera. We won't go out and intentionally intimidate a young player, we'll just play hard. I'd rather intimidate purely through skill," he said. 

"When I started Test cricket, the environments were a lot harder than they were now. You were told anything you didn't want to know about yourself at that time. We're still playing for our country. We want to win. If you play a bit of mind-games on the opposition to help with that objective, why not?"

The 33-year-old, who was one of the stars of the first Test with twin fifties, did intimate that Bangladesh might've had reasons to be aggrieved with the umpiring in Durban.

Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock, the duo that were on duty, had no less than eight of their decisions overturned upon review.

"The umpiring was tough, the wicket didn't help with its variable bounce, which can challenge decision-making. I feel for them. They're good umpires. Marais is Umpire of the Year and Adrian, even though he's just started, is a good umpire," said Elgar.

"The human factor needs to be spoken of here. They do make errors, as we all do. I'm sure they’ve learnt a helluva lot. Decisions are final, we need to respect that.

"Technology is there for a reason. If you don't use it, you're just as accountable for the decisions made against you as they are."

First ball at St George's Park will be bowled at 10:00.


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