Elgar: retiring… or dropped?

After Dean Elgar’s magnificent century against India in the 1st test, Twitter was awash with South African fans crying out for him not to retire, with suggestions that he was being pushed out of the team unfairly. His innings of 185 was truly fantastic. It was an excellent, excellent knock, but bear in mind that he was extra motivated, as he knew he only had two more Tests to play in his career, so he had extra focus in that match.

So many people called it a disgrace that he was being “pushed out” but, once again, South African cricket fans have let their emotions overrule their rationale. They don’t check the facts.

The reality is that Elgar was lucky to be selected for this Test at all. If it is true that he has been kicked out of the Proteas’ side by a new coach Shukri Conrad, then Elgar was actually lucky to get the chance for a swansong, let’s be honest.

You see, prior to the 1st test, Elgar had scored just 597 runs in his previous 25 Test innings… and that was at an average of just 23.88. Think about that. Sarel Erwee… he was dropped with his test average at 26.61.

The even greater irony is that so many South African cricket fans keep calling for Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen to be dropped from the Test side… yet those same fans seem super eager to bow down before the dogged Elgar and the mighty Markram.

So let’s look at all of their last 25 Test innings. If you include Elgar’s 185 against India, then his average over his last 25 tests innings rises from 23.88 to 31.16. Markram’s is just a little bit higher at 31.54 and Van der Dussen is even a little bit higher at 31.69. Now, all of those are actually pretty poor averages… and that’s from three of our top batters in the Proteas’ top six.

And then comes Temba Bavuma… the unfit, the overweight the untalented, the selfish, the entitled, the BEE, the quota player. Well, in Temba’s last 25 tests, his average is 45.76. And he’s the guy getting all the pressure to be kicked out of the side!

Bavuma’s average in One-Day Internationals is second only to Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock… and all three of those players have ODI averages higher than all of the Australian batters… and the Australians are the world champions!

I don’t mean to bash Elgar or Markram, as they are both terrific players, super talents, and they are proud South Africans. I truly support them both… but let’s be fair… Temba is performing the best in the side, and the stats prove it!

So while so many fans are calling for his head, I have no personal bias regarding Temba. I’ve never interviewed him, I’ve never met him. It’s astounding that so many people believe he’s been given unfair opportunities in the side. How can it be that he’s scoring more runs at a higher average than anyone else?

We’re always hearing local fans crying out about the need for selection on merit and to select the best. I couldn’t agree more – 100%! But the trick is to know who the best players really are at any given moment, not just the players who you want to be the best, or who you want to see in the side.

Perhaps start by looking at players’ averages over the last 10, 15 or 25 Test innings in order to compare them.

For now, we need the fans to get their story straight and to do what fans do best. Support the Proteas’ side!

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