Cape Town - Seasoned Proteas Test favourite
AB de Villiers says there is widespread belief in the camp that rookie batsman
Dean Elgar will soon prosper for the country in the five-day arena.
The left-handed, Welkom-born Elgar, 25, is
expected to retain his place - albeit still not ideally stationed in the
middle-order - for the first Test against New Zealand starting at Newlands here
In his lone appearance thus far, he
recorded an unfortunate “pair” (the 38th batsman in history to register that
indignity on debut) against Australia in Perth, where he was given a fiery
baptism by Mitchell Johnson in particular; the left-arm speedster snared him
But the Proteas, as with many other Test
teams, are disinclined to write people off after a maiden cap - such reasonably
modern figures as Graham Gooch, Marvan Atapattu, Ken Rutherford and Saeed Anwar
have experienced double ducks on debut and lived to fight many notably more
At a media briefing following training at a
sultry Newlands on Sunday, wicketkeeper/batsman De Villiers was quick to stress
to Sport24 that Elgar enjoyed the confidence of the squad.
doubt about it. I don’t have to look at it too deeply ... every single guy in
the team knows he’s a fighter and he’s proved it often over the last few years.
“It shows in his personality and that’s the
kind of guy you want in your team whether he’s performing well early in his
(Test) career or not. It’s not a problem; we know he’ll come through.
“He’s the kind of guy who will stand up in
the big moments and we want him around - that’s what we believe in.”
De Villiers, fresh from facing in the nets
both Proteas seamers who are in recovery mode from injures, Jacques Kallis and
Vernon Philander, strongly hinted that the former would be able to bowl in the
Test - he will play as a key batsman anyway - whilst the latter still faced
more of a race against time to make the cut.
“Both look strong. Vernie I’m not 100
percent sure about; he’s got an injury he picked up not very long ago (whereas)
Jakes has had a good amount of time to rest. He looked really good in the nets
and he’ll be running in again.
“I believe both look really solid and hope
both can play, but Vernon I’m not sure about. I’ve haven’t heard the injury
report yet. He’s bowled quite a few balls in the middle and the nets today, so
signs are that (things are coming together).”
Cobras colleague Rory Kleinveldt is on high
alert to replace Philander should he lose his personal battle to be suitably
De Villiers said he felt rejuvenated after
his decision to opt out of the three-match Twenty20 series against the Black
Caps a few days back, when the Proteas won 2-1 with a greatly re-arranged side.
“Absolutely ... it’s all about managing
your energy levels and injuries and niggles, and ultimately keeping the passion
and hunger for the game to really succeed and do well for your team.
“We play a lot of cricket throughout a year
and we’re in a situation where we have to manage it really well. Most of our
guys in the Test team are getting a bit older, especially a guy like Jakes and
a few others who must really be looked after if we are to protect that No 1
“All formats are important to us, so we
must just manage it carefully between CSA and the players as well. But I feel
very energised and more hungry than ever, and hopefully the results will show.”
The popular stroke-player said he felt he
was in a “nice rhythm” at present in terms of his Test glove-work, considering
that until relatively recently he had more or less abandoned ‘keeping for
“It did take some time (to readjust). It
was tough at first, the preparation. It happened suddenly, in England, and I
was thrown into doing it ... though I always wanted to follow Bouchie up with
the gloves anyway.
“I feel I understand really well what my
role is now. I make the right time for both ‘keeping and batting. It is
possible (to do both well) ... I don’t feel tired after a day’s play, or a Test
match. It’s more mental than anything else. I run less, and the ‘fatigue
factor’ is nonsense.
“It’s just concentration and a mental
thing, which I believe I am good at.”
If De Villiers is to be believed, the
Proteas will have taken the necessary steps to guard against complacency when
they tackle the underdog New Zealanders in the two-Test series.
“We had a really good meeting with Gary
(Kirsten) before this Newlands Test ... we sat down at the hotel and examined
everything that’s happened over the past year, and what’s coming up.
“The last time we had No 1 we rather threw
it away as if it didn’t really matter to us. There’s a real sense of care in
the team and spirit in this side; I’m really looking forward to 2013.
“If we can come through the next (year)
well I believe we have a really good chance of dominating for four or five
years around the world.”
Asked about the pitch, De Villiers said:
“It looks like a typical Cape Town wicket. A bit of movement in the first two
days, nice and flat day three, and then four and five hopefully a bit of turn
for Robbie P (Robin Peterson) and some of our spinners.
“I’m not seeing anything weird or different
about it ... the seamers may enjoy a bit of grass on days one and two.
“The New Year Test here is as special as
they come. We didn’t have a Boxing Day Test this year so we’ll enjoy this one
“I’ve missed the game so it’s nice to be
back for this particular occasion, hopefully with a big crowd in ... you can’t
ask for anything better.
“There’s a good sense of confidence
whenever we play at Newlands.”
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