Proteas captain Dean Elgar says he has no regrets over his team selection or decision to bat first after losing the second Test against England inside three days in Manchester on Saturday.
The Proteas went down by an innings and 85 runs, which leaves the series tied at 1-1 going into the third and final fixture at The Oval.
RECAP | Proteas v England – 2nd Test
Given how dominant the Proteas had been in the first Test at Lord’s after their seam attack of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen bowled them to an innings and 12-run win, eyebrows were raised when Elgar confirmed that Jansen had been left out for spinner Simon Harmer on the first morning in Manchester.
That selection left Elgar opting to bat first after winning the toss under floodlit conditions on Thursday; a decision that looked even more puzzling when the Proteas were dismissed for 151 in their first innings with the ball zipping around the Manchester deck.
In his post-match interview with Michael Atherton and Sky Sports on Saturday, Elgar was clear that he had no regrets over either decision and that the call to play two spinners had been made in anticipation of the dry Manchester conditions.
Addressing media after the match, he again stressed that his side’s first-innings batting performance is what let them down.
“I think first innings runs stabilise your game. If you score 300-plus, you’re giving yourself a chance to compete and get a result,” he said.
“We were half of that and I really don’t think we batted well. Sure, the ball went around, but this is Test cricket, and we need to deal with it.
“We lost those two wickets just before lunch on day one, and if we were three down at lunch, I think we would have been in a pretty good position. I would have bitten my arm off for that, but we were five down, and you’re always going to be playing catch-up cricket from there.
“From there, the wicket did deteriorate like we thought it would, and it played in favour of the seamers and spinners. I think the batting in the first innings let us down.”
Dean Elgar (Getty Images)
Elgar then elaborated a bit on why Jansen had been left out.
“Marco is the least experienced in our four-pronged pace attack. Lungi (Ngidi) gives us the control, Anrich (Nortje) gives us the raw pace and KG (Rabada) is the full package.
“We thought Jansen was the obvious choice with (Simon) Harmer, who also provides something with the bat.”
The third and final Test starts at The Oval in London on 8 September.