Dean Elgar, the South Africa captain, has warned England their new aggressive approach to Test cricket could leave them embarrassed and would have had “egg on their faces” if New Zealand had been more consistent earlier this summer.
Elgar’s side currently top the Test championship table, with England lagging way behind in seventh place. He watched the 3-0 series win over New Zealand earlier this summer that sparked the revolution under new coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes which saw them chase down record scores and wipe away the misery of the Ashes defeat.
But Elgar believes such an attacking philosophy will come unstuck in tougher conditions and against teams better able to press home their advantage than New Zealand.
“The new England style is quite interesting. But I don't see longevity in brave cricket because I see things evening out over time in Test cricket,” Elgar says in an interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly. “There was often parity between England and New Zealand and, had New Zealand taken their opportunities and catches, things could have been very different. England would have come away with egg on their faces.”
South Africa have had a taste of England’s new approach already during their tour game against the Lions who responded to pre-match pep talk from McCullum by scoring 672 at 5.74 an over with hundreds for Harry Brook and Ben Duckett as well as quickfire scores in the 90s by Sam Billings and Dan Lawrence.
South Africa have won seven out of nine Tests since Elgar’s appointment as permanent captain last year and sit top of the Test championship table after series wins in the West Indies and at home to Bangladesh and India. They drew 1-1 in New Zealand too with their fortunes reviving since England won in South Africa in 2020.
South Africa’s pace attack has depth with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje now baked up by 6ft 8ins left-armer Marco Jansen who in five Tests has 28 wickets at 20.35. Simon Harmer knows English conditions and batsmen well, and the Lions shredded an attack that was not South Africa’s first choice.