Cook, Elgar beginning to find their feet

2017-01-16 10:25
Dean Elgar (left) and Stephen Cook (Gallo).

Johannesburg - There are many positives for the Proteas to take from their 3-0 series win against Sri Lanka, and one of those is surely the continued improvement of Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook as an opening pair. 

It is a partnership that has struggled to get going. 

Before the Sri Lanka series, Cook and Elgar had opened the innings together on 8 occasions in Test cricket. That included the final Test against England last year, the first Test against New Zealand in August and then three Tests in Australia. 

In that time, the pair had not put on a partnership of more than 43 and their average together was a disappointing 20.5

It wasn't that they weren't scoring runs, but rather that they weren't scoring runs at the same time. 

But the numbers after the Sri Lankan series make for far better reading from a South African perspective. 

Opening stands of 104, 116, 0, 64 and 45 mean that the Proteas averaged a far healthier 65.8 for the first wicket against the Sri Lankans and they will be feeling a lot better about that part of their game going into March's three-Test tour of New Zealand. 

"If you want to have a quality Test team, you need a quality opening partnership and we definitely seem to moving that way at the moment," Proteas coach Russell Domingo said after his side's innings-and-118-run win over Sri Lanka in the third Test in Johannesburg on Saturday.

"Stephen and Dean have got a good thing going - they complement each other really well. They are both gutsy players.

"The way they played on the first morning here was wonderful. They only put on 45, but it felt like a hundred because of the nature of the wicket."

Elgar was the series' leading run-scorer with 308 at 61.6 while Cook scored a respectable 216 at 43.2

"They've been exceptional right through the series," was the word from skipper Faf du Plessis.

"I think opening the batting in South Africa is the hardest place to open the batting, so for them to have done so well in this series ... they must take a lot of credit.

"I suppose it doesn't help them that the captain keeps asking for green wickets, but they've delivered and have played really well. They put their hand up all the time."

Elgar labeled this his best series in Proteas colours, and he was also asked about his new-found success with Cook.

"He is a funny cat. He has a witty sense of humour and he is quite blunt," Elgar said of his partner.

"We can crack a joke. You also don’t have to say a lot with him out there. We say a few things of a serious nature and we know we are in for battle.

"I’ve known Cookie for many years, which is actually a saving grace for us. We are not totally unfamiliar with each other. But it’s a good partnership at the moment."

Read more on:    proteas  |  stephen cook  |  dean elgar  |  johannesburg  |  cricket

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