Proteas stick with top six despite poor middle-order showing
"Consistency is key in Test cricket, even in selection. We need to back the horses we’ve been backing for some time."
KEEPING COOL: Proteas captain Dean Elgar wants to keep the same batting line-up for the second Test at Old Trafford. Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Despite the poor middle-order batting performance in the first Test, Proteas captain Dean Elgar confirmed on Wednesday that there would be no change to their top six for the second Test against England, which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday.
At Lord’s last week, the top-three did a fine job laying a solid platform that took the Proteas to 160/2. But Aiden Markram (16), Rassie van der Dussen (19) and Kyle Verreynne (11) all missed out as they slipped to 210/6, allowing England back into the game.
It was thanks to the lower-order that South Africa had a lead of 161, enough to win by an innings.
Markram, who has not passed 50 in 13 Test innings, and Van der Dussen, no fifty in his last 11 innings, are under particular pressure for their places, but Elgar said they were safe for Old Trafford.
“We do have extra resources, but when the team is getting results then it becomes extremely important to back the players. These are proper batsmen and they are here for a reason,” Elgar said.
“Hopefully they get everything right in this Test, and if we start firing in the middle-order then we will be even more difficult to beat, so I don’t see any change there,” he added.
“Consistency is key in Test cricket, even in selection. We need to back the horses we’ve been backing for some time. So we have selected the same 12 as Lord’s – that’s the XI there plus Simon Harmer.”
It is the sheer potency of the Proteas attack that will pose the biggest threat to England, and Elgar said he was hoping that his bowlers would be even better in Manchester.
“I reckon our bowlers can get much better. They had a brilliant game at Lord’s, the pitch assisted them so that needs to be taken into account, but they put the ball in the right area,” the skipper said.
“They are extremely hungry for success, the competition between them is great to see and they display some of the most professional behaviour I’ve seen.
“They know the past is the past, the first Test is done and they need to start again and bring the intensity and heat again.”
While the Proteas have become a tight-knit family enjoying each other’s success, Elgar is ensuring he still cracks the whip when necessary to push the team to further heights, like securing the series win.
“We want to create a sense of no-one taking their foot off the gas. We’re not going to change the way we play and we won’t be intimidated by whatever changes England make.
“This is a fresh squad with a lot of hunger, whenever we get into a comfortable position then that’s a bit of a red flag. It’s up to me and the coach to realign the team after every good result.”