London, Sep 7 (IANS) South Africa captain Dean Elgar has described the decisive third Test against England as the biggest of his tenure ahead of the showdown that starts at the Kia Oval in London on Thursday.
The two teams are level at 1-1 after the tourists won the opening match at Lord’s by an innings and 12 runs. In return, the hosts eased to an innings and 85-run triumph in match two at Manchester setting up a grandstand finish in the British capital.
The South Africans have enjoyed some time off in the English Midlands since the second Test ended inside three days on August 27 and Elgar admits they had now put that loss behind them.
“We’re long over that,” Elgar told the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “We know it wasn’t our proudest moment but in saying that you’ve got to go through the grievance and then you’ve got a job on.
“You can’t dwell for too long on what happened, you have to crack on and focus on what’s next. We’ve had a few days off where I’m pretty sure the guys have gotten rid of that frustration. But we’re still raring to go, we’re still pretty fresh when it comes to that.
“We’ve only had six days of Test cricket actually, so with regards to freshness we’ve got no excuse around that, with regards to hunger we’ve got no excuse around that. But again, we’ve got to start from ball one. I always say the scoreboard starts at nought and that’s where we are at the moment.”
The Proteas are expected to make one change with Ryan Rickelton due to come in for the injured Rassie van der Dussen, who was injured in Manchester. The former has been in good form playing county cricket earlier in the year, while Elgar suggested that more alterations to the team may also be made.
“He’s (Ryan) had a decent stint in the UK now playing a bit of county cricket,” he said.
“So it’s his time to shine hopefully. We’re pretty confident he’ll be filling that spot left by Rassie.”
And regarding the rest of the XI, the skipper added, “It’s been quite a few days off but we’ve had a lot of thinking and a lot of tough decisions been made. I’m sure there’s one or two extra changes that we’re going to enforce for the next Test.
“But I’m extremely confident in the guys that will be given the opportunity. It’s obviously a big Test for us but I think everyone’s raring to go. We’ve got fit players which is nice to have, we’ve got a lot of options and there might be one or two other changes.”
Elgar also spoke about the difficulty both teams were experiencing in their top orders.
“Up front it’s pretty tough,” he conceded.
“I think if we look at both teams, we haven’t executed the runs result as of yet. It’s been pretty tough getting through the new ball, which is always going to be a challenge in the UK, it’s been a challenge generally everywhere in the world.
“But we know that if we stick to our guns and stick to our processes… the guys have been preparing brilliantly, we’ve been thrown into really tough conditions here at the Oval and the weather hasn’t played its part. It’s been a good challenge for us. We just have to stick to our processes.
“I know it’s around the corner for those things and I understand and I know how much top order runs means for a team to set up a successful chance of victory. It has been a bit of a frustration, but it’s something we’ve worked on hard. We have spoken at length on the topic but now it’s time to walk the walk.”
Elgar, who took over the Proteas captaincy permanently last March, spoke about the importance of the match for him and the Proteas.
“I think it’s the biggest Test so far my captaincy period that I’ve had,” he concluded.
“I reckon it’s the biggest. I think the players know that; they sense that. You have to play every game like it’s your last and this one is no different. So it’s huge; it’s massive and to win will be an unreal feeling.”
South Africa have already won series against England and Ireland during their tour to the United Kingdom, both in the T20I format. They also drew their One-Day International (ODI) series 1-1 against world champions England at the start of the trip.