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Is Dean Elgar a worthy successor to Graeme Smith?

Dean Elgar put aside the void created by Graeme Smith with a ton against Sri Lanka © AFP
Dean Elgar put aside the void created by Graeme Smith with a ton against Sri Lanka © AFP

South Africa were left with a void after the retirement of Graeme Smith at the top of batting order. Rajarshi Majumdar looks at whether Dean Elgar’s ton makes him as the ideal replacement for Smith.

Dean Elgar is a left-handed top order batsman who made his Test debut for South Africa against Australia at Perth in November 2012. To everyone’s surprise he had a pair of ducks to his name in both innings.

After Elgar scored a century in the first innings at Galle on the eve of the first Test against Sri Lanka, all of a sudden there have been questions popping out whether he is a worthy successor to the former South African skipper Graeme Smith. In 2012, Elgar made it to the One-Day squad for South Africa but the faster format of the game did not suit him, and the arrival of Quinton de Kock did not help things either. In the same year, he was asked to join the Test squad in Australia as JP Duminy was injured and as mentioned above he did not make any impact at all.

Graeme Smith had been a colossus for South Africa. His batting averages may not be as high (though he has Bradmanesque averages in successful run-chases) as the legends of the game but the most significant achievement was the big turn-around of South Africa under his leadership.

He had succeeded Shaun Pollock after the failure in the 2003 Cricket World Cup and became the country’s youngest captain at the age of 22. This is like scripting one’s own story. In the same year registered the highest score by any foreigner at Lord’s (259). It seemed to be his fairy tale year, as he was the second South African and 12th overall to go past 9,000 runs in his 112th Test match. He was also the fastest South African to reach to complete 1,000 Test runs.

Smith also holds the world record of captaining South Africa for most Test matches (102 matches). He also holds the world record of highest number of wins in Test matches as a captain (50). The face of South African cricket changed over the years under his captaincy. He always led his team from the front. Opening the batting for his team was an add-on to his captaincy. He carried out his duties on both the shores successfully.

Now Dean Elgar has slipped into the big shoes of the opening batsman for South Africa in the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka. With this role can he live to up to all the expectations, as he has made a promising start to the series?

(Rajarshi Majumdar is a reporter at CricketCountry. He played cricket for all age levels under the Cricket Association of Bengal for over 12 years. Apart from cricket he is an avid follower of football, supports Manchester United and a foodie at heart)

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