It is a time of change in the Proteas team with a new coach in Ottis Gibson and the need to keep improving their Test cricket, and it is the batsmen from whom the most improvement is required, according to Dean Elgar.
The opening batsman is one of the few who can be satisfied with his returns over the last 18 months and Elgar said the disappointing 3-1 series loss in England had prompted some soul-searching amongst the team.
“There’s been a bit of reflection, which you have to do, on where to better yourself and the team ahead of a really tough summer. Ultimately our batting has been our weakness and with the talent we have in our top seven, we’re not doing justice to the standards we’ve set.
“When you see the number of hundreds we’ve scored recently [6 in 2017, with Elgar scoring three of them], then you know the batsmen must give the bowlers more runs in the bank for them to get 20 wickets. We’ve got to be uncompromising on this, we’ve got to be ruthless, tougher and harder in our approach to batting,” Elgar said on Monday.
It certainly does not help that Elgar will now have his fourth different opening partner this year in Aiden Markram when the series against Bangladesh gets underway in Potchefstroom on Thursday.
“I do think it’s unfortunate and the batting unit is never going to be settled if the opening partnership is unsettled. We are the core of the batting, we set it up for the others to play, and we need stability. That said, I’m extremely excited for Aiden, who has proven that he’s a really special player. I hope we have some longevity, can spend a couple of years together,” Elgar said.
Elgar is also excited about working under Gibson for the first time.
“We’re still quite an experienced team, we know each other well, but the coach is going to have quite a lot of new ideas, which is exciting. Maybe we have become a little stale, just doing the same things over and over, and it’s good to have that stimulation that Ottis, who has a lot of international experience with England and the West Indies, will bring. It’s always positive to have some new thinking and a different dynamic because the team does need a different direction,” Elgar said.