Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
6 Mar 2017
3:00 pm

Dean Elgar is happy he won’t be bitten by the two ‘old dogs’

Heinz Schenk

The Proteas are expected to include both Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel for the first Test against New Zealand.

Dean Elgar says he's grateful he doesn't have to face Vernon Philander in NZ conditions. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images.

For the past three weeks, it’s been all about Kagiso Rabada and the Proteas’ potent, new-look bowling attack.

But when the first of three Tests between South Africa and New Zealand begins on Wednesday in Dunedin, there’ll be a distinct throwback to the past.

Also read: Kagiso Rabada isn’t a leader, rather a valued team-man

Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel are both expected to be included and keen to prove that the “old dogs” still have a bite.

“I’m glad Vernon is on my side and I don’t have to face him when this game starts,” said Proteas opener Dean Elgar on Monday.

“We’re blessed to have him in our side. He’s a key member. A fired-up Morne Morkel is also a guy I’m more than happy just to face in the nets. I’d rather take those 7 minutes of hell than play against him in a Test!”

The experienced pair were instrumental in the Proteas’ series win on their last tour, scalping a combined 31 victims.

Together, they have taken a staggering 401 Test wickets between them.

On what Elgar describes as a “juicy” pitch at the University Oval, it’s probably Philander who might have the biggest say on proceedings.

“His lengths will be suited to New Zealand conditions,” said Elgar.

“The overhead conditions will also assist him with his seam movement but it’s still going to be important to adapt quickly. You can’t assume everything is in your favour.”

Morkel’s selection is a bit more complicated because he faces stiff competition from rookie Duanne Olivier, who took 5 wickets on Test debut in January and was the leading wicket-taker in the domestic four-day competition.

The lanky quick hasn’t played Test cricket since late January 2016 and has been plagued by a back injury.

“I think Morne is really hungry,” said Elgar.

“During the last five months he’s had a lot of time to think about his game, do his rehab en get fit. As a left-hander, I think Morne will be more difficult to face in these conditions.

“But it’s not a clear-cut thing. Duanne’s had a brilliant domestic season.”

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