Grass on Kingsmead Test strip makes for happy Elgar ahead of first Bangladesh Test

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Dean Elgar. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)
Dean Elgar. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)
  • Proteas captain Dean Elgar has hoped for a pitch that'll last the five days for the South Africa v Bangladesh Test that starts on Thursday.
  • Kingsmead has been friendly for spinners in recent years, with Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka beating SA there.
  • Elgar said their bowling options are all on the table for the Test.

Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar has hoped for a fair-weather surface at Kingsmead for the Bangladesh series and seeing grass on the pitch made him happy.

Latter-day Kingsmead has gained a reputation of being spin-friendly, as compared to being a pace haven since post-isolation.

Elgar has experienced Kingsmead in all its spinning ingloriousness when playing for the Titans in the 2020/21 Four-Day Franchise Series final against the Dolphins, where 24 of the game's 30 wickets fell to spin.

In SA's last Test outing at Kingsmead, where they lost to Australia in 2018, it was Mitchell Starc's reverse swing that did the trick.

Elgar though commended KwaZulu-Natal cricket for preparing a pitch that is set to last five days as Kingsmead gears to host the first Test between SA and Bangladesh from Thursday onwards.

"We want more grass on the wicket and I think the preparation has been good," Elgar said.

"I'm not too familiar with what they've done, but it looks like some grass has grown here. I think it helps if you put water on the pitch.

"That tends to make grass grow, but there is a little bit of grass cover and I hope they can create a bit more pace and bounce.

"Hopefully, it's a wicket that'll last five days, but the nature of Kingsmead has been the lower and lower variant with more for spinners.

"It does seem they've put a lot of effort into this wicket."

The Test will be Bangladesh's second at a coastal venue in South Africa. They played their very first one at Buffalo Park in East London in 2002, but in subsequent outings, they've been limited to the Highveld.

The Asian sides have been kept to the Highveld and Cape Town because of their success against the Proteas in Durban.

READ | Elgar on major talking point in Proteas camp: 'We need to find a way not to start poor'

India (2010), Pakistan (1998) and Sri Lanka (2011 and 2019) have all tasted success against SA at Kingsmead. 

Elgar said he would have been pleased to play them on the Highveld, but said he'll be keen on playing on any surface.

"I'd be extremely pleased to play these guys on the Highveld and I don't think we've got anything to fear with that," Elgar said.

"I think we play our best cricket in that area, but even if we're going to play in condition that is lower and slower, I think we can adapt to them.

"I'll play them anywhere, to be honest. It doesn't bother me as I've played mighty cricket nations on tough surfaces on the Highveld and had success."

'All options are still available'

The option of Kingsmead as a venue means a rejigging of SA's bowling priorities.

The Indian Premier League-enforced absence of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Marco Jansen means a raw pace attack will have to be levelled out with experienced spin.

Elgar, who said he'd like to be involved in discussions of where Tests will be played in the future, said all bowling options are still on the table.

"All options are still available to us as we still have a bit of time before the test starts," Elgar said.

'We've had some really good conversations with regards to the combinations we want and that's best suited to take 20 wickets against Bangladesh.

"Nothing has been set in stone, but the two-spinner option in Durban is very much a talking point for us, but it's about the best way we want to go about getting 20 wickets.

"We are aware of the slower and lower wicket in Durban, so we do have a lot of the areas covered, so I'm sitting with three different combinations we can go with."

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