Overseas Blues

Grudging respect.

Dean Elgar earned it at the end of the Jo’burg test match against India. His innings on the last day of the match was typical of the man – dour, scrappy and tough. This was on a treacherous surface that was supposed to be “made to order” but the chef seemed to have lost control of the ingredients. The final spread came out horribly wrong for the hosts. Batsmen from both sides took blows so many blows on their bodies that it reminded one of of Brian Close’s encounter with West Indies (as also Phil Edmonds)

Mr Elgar seemed convinced after the test that it should have been called off. At least he got points for consistency. He had expressed his displeasure over the pitches in Mohali and Nagpur during the 2015-2016 series in India. If nothing else he was consistent in calling out sub standard tracks.

All this came at the back of a match that had no bearing on a series India already lost. India’s victory in this test feels euphoric but it is in some sense a tree in a forest that we already missed. You would think an average Indian fan is used to it by now but I think he still allows a bit of delusion to creep in before the start of any series.

I have never rated Mr Gavaskar highly as a commentator. Mainly because of his absolute refusal to evolve his style. But I had to agree with his comment at the end of the fourth day when it seemed like play would be called off after Dean Elgar got hit on the head. His view was if the roles were reversed and India was asking for the game to be called off after an Indian batsman got hit they would be labeled “sissies”. I was immediately reminded of a grumpy rant by Aussie commentator Jim Maxwell at the end of the first test. There was nothing new in the substance but the tone felt condescending.

It was a case of so near yet so far for India in its quest for overseas success. The final test victory may cloud the vision a bit but without question this was a series India had a great chance of winning. The quest continues…