Dean Elgar. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
- Proteas coach Mark Boucher has heaped praise on Test captain Dean Elgar.
- Elgar made the “brave” call to bat first in the second Test against New Zealand, which SA won.
- Boucher says the entire Proteas group supports Elgar “in a big way”.
The decision of Proteas captain Dean Elgar to bat first in the second Test against New Zealand speaks volumes about his character and the type of leader he is.
That is the view of head coach Mark Boucher, who watched on as South Africa secured a stunning 198-run victory in the second Test against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch this week.
It resulted in a 1-1 series draw against the World Test champions, which seemed highly unlikely after New Zealand had bowled the Proteas out for 95 and 111 to win the first Test at the same venue by an innings and 276 runs.
In seam-friendly conditions, Elgar won the toss and opted to bat first on the first morning of the second Test in a decision that was deemed a gamble by commentators and critics.
Sarel Erwee’s 108, though, set up a first-innings total of 364 that got the visitors moving in the right direction and ultimately set up the win.
“Dean is one of those guys who talks a lot, but he is prepared to follow it up with actions,” Boucher said after the match.
“One of the chats we had before was that we knew we were going to be under pressure coming into the second game, and that we didn’t want to run away from that and walk towards that.
“Just him winning the toss and batting, with him being the opening batter, speaks words for the character and individual that he is.
“If you get a captain like that who is prepared to go out there and front up like he did, and not walk away from pressure but rather walk towards it, then the rest of the team gel together.
“They look up to him as well. He’s been fantastic, not only in this series but the last one as well. He’ll grow from strength to strength and the guys back him in a very strong way.”
Boucher also praised the performance and character of the rest of the team.
“I think the guys showed a lot of character. It’s one thing to lose a Test match, but the way we lost the first Test was very disappointing,” said Boucher.
“The nice thing is that there was no sense of panic, just a realisation that we didn’t rock up. I think there was an understanding of what was required to bring to the table in the Test match and it took a couple of brave calls as well.
“With the mental pace we must have been in after the first Test battering, to go out there and bat the way we did was very impressive for me.
“There were a couple of standouts, but as a unit we managed to string together a very good Test match and it’s a nice, convincing win.”
The Proteas will now prepare for three ODIs and two Tests against Bangladesh, with that tour getting under way with the first ODI on 18 March.