Columnists 7.2.2018 11:09 am

Why is Dean Elgar ignored in this Proteas time of crisis?

Jaco van der Merwe.

Jaco van der Merwe.

The Test opener averages 42 in white-ball cricket domestically but it’s a mystery why the national selectors still consider him a specialist.

I bet Dean Elgar probably won’t approach me to write his biography when he retires from cricket one day, but feel it might still be worth a shot pitching an idea to him as I’ve got it all figured out.

I have a rather outrageous plan for the pugnacious left-hander’s life story.

That is to say it doesn’t change too much, but judging by the recent developments I doubt it will.

The front cover will have a picture of his face, drenched in sweat, with the title: The man with the leather balls.

If you flip the book around, you’ll find a completely different cover.

Only this time, he’ll be frowning under the title: The forgotten man of one-day cricket.

I don’t blame the poor fellow if he finds himself in a bit of a no-man’s land at the moment.

He has proved his mettle as a tough-as nails Test opener time and time again over the years.

His stats look good and on top of that, the stuff that isn’t measured in numbers – pure guts – is there in abundance.

Like his recent gritty unbeaten 86 against India at the Wanderers indicates.

But in stark contrast to his solid Test career, Elgar has only played six one-day internationals, of which the first five were over five years ago.

To put it in perspective, a man who has scored almost 3 000 Test runs at an average of 42 from 6 187 balls since his debut in Perth in 2012, has only faced two balls in ODI cricket over the same period.

And in that solitary innings he batted out of position at No 7 as a stop-gap replacement in Mumbai in 2015.

And now that a golden opportunity for Elgar to finally show his mettle in the national one-day team has presented itself with Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers being out injured, he is mysteriously still overlooked.

Even guys like Colin Ingram and Rilee Rossouw, who have been ahead of him in the one-day queue the past, are out of the running due to their Kolpak commitments.

I’ve got no gripe with the national selectors’ World Cup 2019 vision and beyond reflecting in their selections of Aiden Markram and Khaya Zondo, but I think ignoring Elgar – especially during the current crisis – is a big mistake.

He is only 30, so don’t tell me that is a problem looking ahead when the 34-year-old Farhaan Behardien has just been recalled.

And looking at Elgar’s domestic one-day record makes his exclusion even more puzzling.

He boasts almost 5 000 runs in 50-over cricket at a very healthy average of 42.

Of his five centuries, two came in the play-offs of the Momentum One-Day Cup three season ago where he reached three figures in both an away semifinal and final in Durban and Cape Town to propel the Titans to the title.

How can the selectors not know that that is exactly the kind of grit you need in your desperation to break the World Cup duck?

Yes, you do need exciting youngsters coming through, but also blood and guts in knockout matches, something the Proteas are traditionally woefully short of at World Cup tournaments.

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