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Elgar greets ‘brilliant’ Proteas character, praises ‘new’ players

Proteas captain Dean Elgar is not the type to get too carried away, but South Africa’s remarkable second Test victory over New Zealand in Christchurch, after his astonishing decision to hit first, drew a “brilliant” from the nuggety opening batsman.

After being humiliated by an innings and 276 runs in the first Test, the Proteas bounced back in the second with an astonishing all-round display winning by 198 runs, leaving their unbeaten run record against New Zealand intact.

“To get a 1-1 result to New Zealand I would have done it at the start of the tour,” said Elgar. “We certainly didn’t start well, we didn’t really get going, but we learned so much from that.

“To see us really rock out in the second test, to bounce back and show a lot of character and maturity was brilliant. Because of the first test, it would have been easy to take the soft option and bowl first.

“But visually the field looked a bit different, there was a lot less green grass and it was a bit like a bat-first wicket. I don’t like taking the easy way, that’s not my character.

“Thanks to the team for responding so well as the bowlers up front were still quite a challenge on that field. It’s about playing a positive kind of cricket, playing from the forefoot,” Elgar said.

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Deprived of two key bowlers in Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, it was gratifying to see two young bowlers from the Vaal, Wiaan Mulder and Lutho Sipamla, emerge and admirably take their places on the attack.

Other ‘foals’ finding their way into the Test were Kyle Verreynne and Sarel Erwee, 32 years old but playing in his second Test. Both scored brilliant centuries, Erwee on the first day and Verreynne under enormous pressure in the second innings.

“It was good to see the young guys come on,” Elgar said. “Losing Lungi with a back problem was a big loss for the bowling unit but it was a good team effort with some older guys raising their hands too.

“There were many different influences on this game. Sarel really showed his character, his story goes much deeper than just playing cricket. He understands that you have to work hard for what you believe in.

“Kyle hasn’t played many tests, he had to fill big boots and he was controlled a lot, but the way he came out and played his natural style in the second innings was brilliant.

“Keshav Maharaj has always been a banker of mine and I know what I will get from him in terms of play and competitiveness. And KG Rabada has been phenomenal,” said Elgar.

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