Elgar saddened by decline of Test cricket in South Africa

Cricket South African captain Dean Elgar is saddened that T20 cricket is being prioritised ahead of Test cricket.  By PHILL MAGAKOE AFP
South African captain Dean Elgar is saddened that T20 cricket is being prioritised ahead of Test cricket. By PHILL MAGAKOE (AFP)

On the eve of his 86th and final Test match, Dean Elgar said he was "sad" South Africa would be sending a weakened team to play two Test matches in New Zealand in March.

"The situation we've been put in is not ideal," Elgar said on Tuesday, on the eve of the second Test against India at Newlands, where he will captain South Africa in his last match before retiring from international cricket.

Only two of the players who won the first Test by an innings last week will be travelling to New Zealand -- the result of a decision by Cricket South Africa to prioritise the SA20 franchise competition.

"Irrespective of what has happened behind the scenes there is still a lot of hunger (for Test cricket) from the guys who are playing," he said.

Elgar said the positive from the situation was that it was an opportunity "for the guys going to New Zealand to put in performances and to eventually become regular members of the squad."

But he quickly said the decision to put the Twenty20 league ahead of Tests had nothing to do with the players.

"What happens behind the scenes is totally out of our control. It's out of our hands, the coaches' hands, the team management's hands," said the 36-year-old.

"It's sad that it's gone in that direction. As players we don't have control over that, we have to focus on what we can focus on."

'Highlight Test'

Elgar said it was up to cricket's administrators "to make the right decisions for players and the longevity of our format, especially our Test format.

"It's up to players to go out and win and show the hunger for this format. As long as I'm around I'm going to be a Test fanatic and I think a lot of our guys are Test fanatics."

Elgar said he hoped young players would get the opportunities to have the experiences he had had in 12 years of Test cricket.

"We can fight and promote the format as much as you can but it's up to the guys who count the beans.

"Hopefully there will be a bit of sanity in the decisions for our players going forward," he said.

Elgar criticised South Africa's limited Test schedule in which they only play two-match series until the 2026/27 season when they play three matches against both Australia and England.

"It would be sad going forward for us just to play with two Test matches in a series, to me it's not the best way for guys to learn about the format," he said.

Regarding the Test starting on Wednesday, Elgar -- who scored an imperious 185 in the first Test -- said it was important to focus on the match and not his personal situation.

"It's a massive Test for us, our highlight Test of the year," said Elgar, who is to captain Somerset in the County Championship later in the year.

"We have another game where we have to make a solid start.

"We'll worry about the retirement afterwards."