South Africa captain Dean Elgar says pride and the opportunity to still qualify for the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final will be two major driving factors as they aim to bounce back from a crushing series loss in the third and last Test against Australia beginning here on Wednesday.
The clash at the SCG is a dead rubber as the hosts won the first two matches of the series in Brisbane and Melbourne.
All that the South Africans can now hope for is a consolation victory, although a win will also keep them alive in the hunt for a place in that WTC decider later this year.
Elgar and Co are presently placed fourth behind the Australians, India and Sri Lanka, with a win in Sydney for the home side guaranteeing a place in the final.
“There’s plenty to play for,” the Proteas skipper told the media ahead of the game.
“We’re playing for pride, we’re playing for a potential place to the WTC final. So we’ve also got a lot to play for.
“That’s a massive incentive for us and for me you play every Test match like it’s your last and hopefully we can put on a better spectacle this time. We always want to play good Test cricket and be a thorn in the side of the opposition and we’ll be aiming to so better again this time.” South Africa have been disappointing with the bat throughout the series, especially the top order. Barring some exceptions like Kyle Verreynne and Temba Bavuma, Elgar believes the batters need to do far better in this game.
Theunis de Bruyn will miss the match due to paternity leave, meaning there will be at least one change to the line-up.
“You can’t hide in Test cricket and the top five we obviously need to find a way to deal with and negate the demands of batting discipline in Test cricket,” Elgar explained.
“I think Kyle’s been brilliant for us at six and moving him around I don’t think is going to help us or help him at all and I don’t think it’s fair.
“I think our only batting options are with those two (Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen) by squad composition.
“Rassie has quite a bit of experience at Test level and he can bring a lot to the role and then you look at a guy like Heinrich, who’s immensely talented and maybe he’s deserving of a chance now, an extended chance as well. We’ll make those decisions this afternoon,” he said.
The captain was also asked whether he had changed his perception about playing an extra batter instead of a frontline bowler.
“I’m still thinking towards 6-5, but all options are on the table for us. To play seven batters would be a massive call for us and a massive ask for our bowling unit to obviously cover those four spots.
“The workload has been pretty hectic on our fast bowlers of late, especially in the last Test where they really pushed quite a few numbers with regard to overs bowled. To expect them to come into a Test match and only have four bowlers, potentially only three seamers, is quite a big ask for them.
“But the options are there, and we’ll make those decisions by tonight,” Elgar concluded.