South Africa captain Dean Elgar attempted to end the “mud-slinging” over England’s recent thrilling approach to Test cricket before he backtracked when pondering how ‘Bazball’ would look when it goes wrong.
The three-match series gets under way at Lord’s on Wednesday with further Tests to come at Emirates Old Trafford and Kia Oval.
England will aim to continue their momentum over the next month having won all four home Tests against New Zealand and India earlier this summer thanks to remarkable chases with 378 reeled in at Edgbaston last month.
A bold brand of cricket with a positive approach at the forefront of everything has been quickly implemented by new red-ball captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, which saw the term ‘Bazball’ coined, but Elgar has repeatedly poked fun at the philosophy in recent weeks.
He initially looked to cool tensions on the eve of the first Test before the 35-year-old promised the tourists were not here to play soft-natured cricket.
“With all due respect I am really not going to entertain that (Bazball) anymore. We have chatted about it long and hard. I just want to crack on with the cricket,” Elgar said.
“I think the game deserves that respect and mud-slinging is now a thing of the past for me. We are not going to go back and forth any more around that.
“What they (England) did, the conditions were pretty nice to bat in during those specific Tests.
“They did really unique things around that time, those months ago, chasing the scores they did and it was something where I was also blown away with. It was pretty impressive.
“But I would like to think the bowlers we have, even if the wickets are pretty flat, I think we have covered our bases with regards to our bowling unit and we can bowl them out even if they are chasing.
“I am pretty confident because we have done it in the past. It might be hard work for us but this is what we are here to do. We are not here to play soft-natured cricket, we want it hard and really tough and hopefully the results go our way.”
South Africa will check on Kagiso Rabada before naming their XI with the fast bowler recently absent with an ankle injury.
Rabada sat out last week’s warm-up match with England Lions where the tourists suffered a chastening defeat by an innings and 56 runs in Canterbury after conceding 672 in the first innings but Elgar played down its significance.
He added: “I read absolutely nothing into that warm-up game purely out of what we wanted to achieve as a side.
“Yeah, it was a good exercise and if they come out playing like that in an official Test match and it goes pear shaped, that will not look very good for England.
“I would have liked to have seen what it was like if it was an official four-day game. I think you play a little bit different if you are playing for stats.”
Elgar has won seven Tests out of nine since his appointment as skipper in 2021 and tipped Rabada to be fit to feature at the home of cricket while he reflected on what the Proteas had learned from England’s exploits since the new era started.
“I think Kagi is very close to being fully fit for this Test. He has had a really good few days so it is looking pretty good for us,” the 35-year-old insisted.
“I think there has been a lot of learnings since watching those series unfold and the way they did, I do think we are a smarter side and adaptability is extremely big for me.
“I would like to think from a bowling point of view, our bowlers are big, tall, fast and strong and I think we come in with a lot more resources as well.”