TELFORD VICE, Hobart
THEY’RE both left-handed, they both open the batting, and they both take more than their fair share of defiance onto the field with them.
At least, Graeme Smith used to before his retirement in March 2014. Dean Elgar is still at it, currently on South Africa’s tour to Australia.
And the Aussies have noticed, not least because Elgar spent almost eight hours scoring 127 in the second innings of the first test at the WACA – where South Africa won by 177 runs on Monday.
“Most of them play their shots,” Australian fast bowler Josh Hazlewood said on Thursday in discussing South Africa’s batsmen.
“Except for Dean Elgar. He’s a bit of grinder and very patient.”
Which, of course, Elgar took as a compliment.
“That’s just my nature, to try and irritate the opposition,” Elgar said on Thursday with a satisfied smile. “I’m not practicing it. It just comes naturally.
“But if that’s the way they feel about it, it’s not a bad thing.
“It’s maybe an objective that I’ve achieved in the last test and it’s going to be something to work on more going into the second test and then possibly the third test.”
In other words, get used to it, Hazlewood and company.
Smith is made of similarly brash stuff, and he showed on Wednesday that retirement had not softened him by levelling charges of “a lack of confidence or self-belief or fighting in that set-up at the moment” at Australian cricket.
“It does show me that there is something that’s not right there,” Smith said.
Smith was Elgar’s captain in his first nine tests, and he admitted that Smith’s philosophy had rubbed off on him.
“I did admire the way he played the game and the way he approached his cricket,” Elgar said.
“I don’t think I ever thought I would like to emulate his technique, but his attitude, the way he played the game and the way he conducted himself off and on the field is something I looked up to.”
But Elgar wasn’t on the same page as Smith and his views of the game in Australia.
“I’m sure that’s just his personal dig,” Elgar said. “I don’t think there is a culture issue within the Australian side.
“We know they’re still a dangerous team and they can bounce back in the second test.”
One of the differences between Smith and Elgar is 18 centimetres in height.
Another is that Smith doesn’t have to go out and face Australia’s bowlers in the second test in Hobart, which starts on Saturday.