Cape Town – Dean Elgar has been a mainstay of the Proteas top order for over five years in Test cricket.
Now 32, he has carved out a reputation for himself as one of the grittiest opening batsmen on the world Test stage with several bulldog-like knocks for the national side in some seriously trying situations.
On the toughest wickets, Elgar battles through bouncers and bruises and ensures that bowlers must earn his wicket.
He loves batting for long periods, and that has translated into 12 Test centuries, the last of which came in the first Test against India in Visakhapatnam when his 160 resulted in a standing ovation in a losing cause.
With Aiden Markram struggling for form, Elgar’s role for the upcoming four-Test series against England over the festive period has become crucial.
His white ball credentials, however, have almost always been overlooked.
Elgar has always said that he wants to play ODI cricket for his country, but since making his debut in the format back in 2012 he has notched up just 8 caps.
He was given a brief window in 2018 to make a play at the 2019 World Cup squad, but scores of 2 and 4 against Zimbabwe saw that experiment ditched immediately by Proteas management.
On Sunday in Paarl, though, Elgar provided a glimpse of what could have been with a superb 88* (60) to help the Tshwane Spartans chase down the 186 they needed for victory against the Paarl Rocks in the Mzansi Super League (MSL).
Elgar was brilliant from start to finish, showing that you don’t need to be the longest hitter to score quickly in T20 cricket.
He was innovative, moving around the crease to manufacture space for himself, and he never once looked flustered under the pressures of the chase.
Elgar displayed the same composure he does in Test cricket and he proved that he is more than capable of getting the job done in ODIs and T20s too.
“I saw before the tournament started that he was my guy that everyone needed to look out for,” Spartans captain Heinrich Klaasen said of Elgar after Sunday’s match.
“Everyone has pigeonholed him as a Test player, but his white ball skills are on a different level as well.
“He has just never had the opportunity to play a lot of white ball cricket in South Africa. I’m very happy for him. He deserves it and it couldn’t have happened to a better person.
“Hopefully he can continue it for us for the next seven games.”
Elgar and the Spartans are next in action when they host the Durban Heat at Centurion on Thursday night.