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“I felt that I was wasted as a person and as a cricketer”: Dean Elgar on international retirement and joining Essex

Former South African captain and opening batter, Dean Elgar has expressed his frustration with Cricket South Africa and the dearth of test matches towards the end of his career.

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Although he wished his international career could have continued, he has dreamt of finishing his cricketing career playing in the County Championship.

He said: “I’ve missed a lot of cricket over the last few years. For me I always want to play and challenge myself at the highest level.

“We didn’t have enough test matches and that was where I felt that I was getting wasted as a person and as a cricketer and going forward it doesn’t look like there is going to be a lot of competitiveness in that respect, so for me, the next best was this.”

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“As a young kid playing professional cricket, I always had a vision of ending my career playing County Cricket. Fifty percent of my family are from here and that was always something I was looking to do, irrespective of how things looked back home.”

Elgar was reluctant to comment on South Africa’s recent tour, where a very inexperienced side was sent to New Zealand after the series clashed with the SA20, South Africa’s flagship franchise tournament.

Elgar stated: “I don’t think I need to elaborate on that because it was pretty sh*t.”

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Despite Elgar’s evident exasperation of the disregard by administrators of South African red ball cricket, he does not blame the SA20 for his retirement.

He said: “I saw the writing on the wall [about his retirement] a year ago. It has nothing to do with the SA20. I think that is a great tournament for South African cricket. I know it brings in good money.

“Unfortunately it has taken away international duties and it is a balancing act of what do the administrators want. I know what I want as a player.”

The dogged batter was extremely complimentary of the County Championship but trusts his ability to make runs, despite the challenging conditions.

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He said: “I think it is up there with possibly the toughest four day cricket in the world. You get your overseas guys playing for every other team so that obviously creates a lot of strength.

“I’ve always felt that County Cricket is the toughest and it is not just the cricket things, it is the way of life. The weather is not the easiest over here. It is cold in April and May.

“The biggest thing about four day cricket is you’ve got to find a way to make it work for you and put you in the best mind space so that you can try to win the big moment.”

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“For me it is about following the process. What the ball does in the air and off the wicket, I can’t control that. I have to control what I can control and it is my process and the way I prepare and the way I conduct myself in the changing room and obviously try to put out performances for the team.”

Elgar has signed a three-year deal at Essex and will likely replace Sir Alastair Cook at the top of the order.

He said: “I’m very excited. If I match what he’s done in the past for Essex, I think it will be a phenomenal three years.

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“But in saying that, I have to bring my own spin on things. In saying that, I can’t play the way he does. He’s a Sir for a reason.

“If I can do even 80% of what he’s done, I think Essex will be in a great spot.”

The County grind is a gruelling six month season, with little respite and when asked about the biggest challenges of the Championship, Elgar only somewhat jovially replied: “Not seeing my dogs.”

Dean Elgar
Credit: Essex Cricket


  • Toby Reynolds

    Toby is the cricket editor at the Sports Gazette. For the last three years, he has been a radio host and podcaster at URN. He also enjoys F1, rugby and football. Having written his dissertation on rugby union salary caps, Toby loves to explore tactical trends and use statistics to back up his arguments, as well as trying to disprove the saying that “stats are for prats”.