Pride of Welkom against Yorkshire

06 July 2017 - 07:39
By Telford Vice
Dean Elgar of South Africa celebrates scoring a century at St George's Park. File photo
Image: GALLO IMAGES Dean Elgar of South Africa celebrates scoring a century at St George's Park. File photo

Dean Elgar is as old-fashioned as cricketers come and a damn straight bloke who tells you what he thinks because that's what he thinks - not because that's what he thinks you want to hear.

In the absence of the indisposed Faf du Plessis, South Africa could do worse than be led by Elgar in the first Test at Lord's today.

England will also have a new man at the helm in Joe Root, and if you wanted to be mean about the contest between the captains you could talk it up as the square-jawed versus the no-jawed.

But Root seems as proper a human being as Elgar, and in some ways Welkom is not a long way from Yorkshire.

"If you take me off the field I'm quite a reserved and quiet guy, and if I get to know the individuals I'm a bit of a clown," Elgar said.

"But once I cross the line - you can see it in my batting - I'm a bit tougher and more 'nuggety', as everyone's been calling it, though I don't know what the word means."

Unlike Elgar, who will hand the reins back to Du Plessis for the second match of the series in Nottingham, Root is in it for the long haul. Was he ready for the unfair levels of scrutiny?

"We'll see over time; who knows?" he said. "There's a lot of unknown things coming into this job but I've always been confident about what I'm capable of and I don't see why I'd go about this any differently."

Elgar didn't think his part-time status meant he shouldn't make himself at home at the helm.

"It's definitely an opportunity to enhance a leadership role within the team and maybe become more of a leader within the ranks," he said.

What he would enjoy most was that "I can contribute more within the team environment".

Yesterday's press conferences marked a special moment that is too often excised from the narrative of modern sport: two decent men come to do a job as well as they're able. Neither more nor less. And who could ask for more?

Elgar's father, Richard, will be in attendance on Thursday, as will his coach all those years ago at StDominic's in Welkom, Louis Klopper - the fulfilment of a long-standing agreement between the two that, should Elgar the younger play a Test at Lord's .

"He saw something more in me than what I saw when I was nine years old," Elgar said. "He and my father said that if it happens one day they were going to come."

Root's father and grandfather will also be present.