’I laid down some proper challengers to the senior players,’ says Dean Elgar after Proteas series win
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Cape Town — To most observers, South Africa have in recent times looked a shadow of the great teams of the past that have represented the Proteas.
Indeed, taking into account the length of time since they last won a significant Test series, arguably at home against Australia in 2018, a victory in a Test series over the World's No 1 side India is worth celebrating from the roof tops.
The fact that the Proteas were the first team to record a series win without scoring 250 - in addition to no batter scoring an individual century - in any of their turns at the crease is basically the equivalent of a Money Heist orchestrated by the "Professor" himself.
But that matters nothing as this was purely a case of getting the job done in any which way they could.
It required though a leader that was made of steel in Dean Elgar, who was also not afraid to let any of his teammates know what was required in a battle of such epic proportions.
"You need immense characters to stand up in these kinds of tough situations," Elgar said. "If you want to operate at a high performance level, you need to have tough chats. If guys don't like it, that's up for them to deal with. I've got an old-school mentality with bit of a new-school twist.
"I laid down some proper challenges to the senior players as well, to obviously stand up and respond and it was brilliant to see the guys take the message and follow it. It's one of the bigger challenges to get everyone on your side and buy in from a captain's point of view. The guys responded brilliantly."
The resolve was further evident in the fact South Africa had to come from behind after losing the first Test at SuperSport Park. A team with lesser character would have succumbed to the pressure, but not Elgar's group of bandits.
"I couldn't be prouder of the group, of players I have underneath me. We were thrown under the sword quite a few times in the series and the guys responded brilliantly. After the first loss, the boys had a lot of hope going into the second and third [Tests] knowing we can still win this. We obviously had to follow our ways and processes going into those games. I asked the players to respond in a better nature, better way and they responded brilliantly," he said.
Furthermore, it was not the Proteas who blinked first but rather the Indians when they lost their cool on the third afternoon at Newlands after a controversial DRS decision went against the tourists. Elgar believed that was the seminal moment of the series, which ultimately swung South Africa's way.
"It was maybe a team under a bit of pressure and things weren't going their way, which they are quite used to of late", he said.
"It was a bit of Test match cricket pressure which gave us a little bit of a window period to score freer and chip away at the target. It played nicely into our hands that for a period of time, they forgot about the game and they were channeling a bit more of the emotional side of what Test cricket has to offer. I am extremely happy it happened that way."