Dean Elgar to retire from Tests after India series

Dean Elgar, South Africa’s former Test captain and stalwart opening batter, will play his last international series against India this summer. Elgar, 36, announced his decision to retire from international cricket after the New Year’s match, which is scheduled to start on January 3 in Cape Town.

If in the playing XI for both Tests against India, Elgar will finish on 86 Tests in a career that has spanned 12 years. “Playing the game of cricket has always been a dream of mine but having the opportunity to represent your country is the ultimate! Having had the privilege to do it for 12 years internationally is simply beyond my wildest dreams,” he said in a statement. “It has been an incredible journey that I have been fortunate enough to have.

“The Cape Town Test will be my last. My favourite stadium in the world. A place I scored my first Test run against New Zealand and hopefully my last too.”

With 5146 runs, Elgar is South Africa’s eighth-highest run-scorer in Test cricket – only eight have gone past 5000 runs – and 352 runs behind Mark Boucher, who is seventh on the list.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Elgar was informed that he was not part of red-ball coach Shukri Conrad’s long-term plans. He has been linked with Essex as an overseas player for the 2024 season.

“Dean Elgar represents a rare brand of cricketer in an age where everything is about innovation and power-hitting. He is a real old-school cricketer that can dig in, absorb and fight. I have no doubt the game will dearly miss him”

Enoch Nkwe

Elgar’s decision means he will be unavailable for South Africa’s two-Test series in New Zealand, where they will be forced to send a makeshift side because several frontline players will be involved in the SA20 league. Elgar does not have an SA20 deal and would have been the most experienced player in the squad, and potentially even asked to captain in Temba Bavuma’s absence. Instead, Titans’ batter Neil Brand is expected to lead South Africa and partner Tony de Zorzi at the top of the order. Brand and de Zorzi opened the batting together for South Africa A against West Indies A in a recent three-match series.

Asked ten days ago whether Elgar was considering ending his international career, CSA director of cricket Enoch Nkwe told ESPNcricinfo that “nothing has come to my table”, but would be meeting with players and their agents “over the next couple of weeks”. Nkwe has held several discussions in the interim and paid tribute to Elgar’s contributions over the years.

“Dean Elgar represents a rare brand of cricketer in an age where everything is about innovation and power-hitting. He is a real old-school cricketer that can dig in, absorb and fight. I have no doubt the game will dearly miss him,” Nkwe said. “He has always given everything for his country and never showed any fear, no matter the opposition. He was always there to take on the challenge, leading as captain when the country needed him most.”

Elgar made his debut in Perth on South Africa’s tour of Australia in 2012, when they were ranked No. 1 in the world, and became the 38th player to record a pair on debut – a list that stands at 45 now – but scored a century in his third match and went on to record 13 hundreds, against all Test opposition other than Pakistan and Zimbabwe. His favourite opponents were Sri Lanka, against whom he scored a match-winning hundred in Galle in 2014, followed by two more centuries in 2017 and 2021.

Elgar stood in as captain for Faf du Plessis, who was on paternity leave, for the first Test of South Africa’s 2017 tour of England and again for two Tests against Pakistan in 2019, and was named permanent captain of the Test side in mid-2021. He led South Africa to series wins in the West Indies and against India at home, and drew a series against New Zealand in early 2022, which saw them top the World Test Championship (WTC) table at the time. But away losses to England and Australia in 2022-23 meant South Africa missed out on the WTC final earlier this year. Elgar was replaced as captain when there was a reshuffle of the coaching staff in February but continued to play under Bavuma.

It is understood that Elgar was unhappy with the decision to be stood down but accepted a new central contract at the end of March. With South Africa only due to play two Test series in the 2023-2025 WTC cycle, Elgar felt his Test career would be limited by the schedule and sources have confirmed he wanted to finish on a high at home.

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