On the eve of playing their first Test against Australia at The Gabba, South Africa captain Dean Elgar has described the opportunity to play in the country as ‘surreal’ and a ‘privilege’.
Australia and South Africa will begin their three-match series at Brisbane on Saturday with the visitors hoping to build on their outstanding red-ball record in the country where they have won their last three series.
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“(It takes) a lot of courage (to win in Australia). You have to have the mindset of playing to win. It’s kind of something that I’ve been speaking at length about within our group, within our squad."
“Australia’s a really tough place to play cricket but it’s also such a rewarding place to play if you can get things right. You’ve got to take your opportunities and that kind of ties in with general Test cricket around the world."
“Playing Test cricket in Australia is such a privilege and you’ve got to go beyond what you’re used to. You have to actually savour the moment, it’s massive, and the legacy and history of South African cricket and Australian cricket are so rich. And we’re just another talented group that can achieve something great in the future," he said in the pre-match press conference.
South Africa have little experience playing at the famous Gabba - the only time they played there post-isolation was in 2012 when they drew with the hosts. That inexperience there is a good thing, according to Elgar, under whom South Africa are currently in second place in the World Test Championship (WTC) tally.
“I must say we don’t have any dirty laundry when it comes to playing at the Gabba because we haven’t played here yet. So as a group we’re pretty fresh and pretty unique to the surroundings. The history here is obviously not in our favour and that’s okay."
“We have a young group and also an experienced group, so I think the fact that we haven’t had any failures here, it might work in our favour. So we’re looking forward to the opportunity, it’s almost like a surreal moment for us. We’ve been here for two weeks; we’ve been waiting a bit for this moment and we’re looking forward to getting going."
The Proteas’ batting has come under scrutiny in the recent past after they experienced a difficult time playing in tough conditions in England earlier in the year, where they lost the series 2-1.
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With him and vice-captain Temba Bavuma being the only players from the current group to have previously played Tests in Australia, Elgar admitted it was time for the batters to put up their hands up with strong performances in the series against a strong bowling attack led by captain Pat Cummins.
“I think all the batters have to stand up. It’s been a bit of a talking point that’s surrounded our batting unit of late. Again I’ve never shied away from it and it’s time for the boys to rise up. It’s time for myself personally to really put my hand up and make a massive call and make a massive play for us."
“In saying that we have a really talented group, they’re just a little bit inexperienced when it comes to Test cricket. But that’s okay. They don’t have a lot of baggage again coming into this series. They’re massively talented and they just need to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way."
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