Weekly sports newsletter: who wouldn’t love to see Dean Elgar and Cheteshwar Pujara get their due


Dear readers,

There is this old monastic batting school where you specialize in “substance” with “style” being optional. Dean Elgar and Cheteshwar Pujara are alumni of this archaic institute struggling to survive. Cricket Unicorns, the T20 franchise, don’t come here to hire on campus.

They produce trial cricketers, the breed that works long hours but is content with smaller paychecks. Most of the time, they’re seen as misfits in modern gaming, with those annoying Masons blocking the path of younger racing players. But then there are games like Wanderers, where the world rises to cheer on the low-keyers and recognize that hitting rate was an inadequate matrix for quantifying try-out hitters.

Elgar, and before that Pujara, showed that cricket still has room for those who have the patience to play, the courage to take hits and the conviction to stick with their oft-maligned and often-criticized approach. ugly. On their pitch, in those sacred flannels, they’ve got it in them to make the Markrams and Pants of the world – batsmen who make IPL owners drool with paddles in hand – seem inferior.

A few years ago, Elgar, in an interview with Sriram Veera, had spoken of his connection with Pujara. “I think me and Pooji (Cheteshwar Pujara) are potentially in the same boat. We are very similar players. He can also, I think, make the stick look ugly sometimes, but he’s really effective and can be back home, he’s not really cherished as much as the others. Because he’s not seen as someone who hits every bullet for four, ”he said.

South African Dean Elgar reacts after his team won the second cricket test between South Africa and India at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday January 6, 2022 (AP Photo)

That was in 2018. Pujara had yet to be chosen at the IPL auction to the thunderous applause of a room full of franchise owners, all graciously making way for Chennai Super Kings to be the big supporter of the testing and testing cricketers. It was also Elgar’s time in the sun. He had played some Elgar archetypes to deny India a historic victory in the Test series. He had the attention of the cricket world and he couldn’t have missed an opportunity to smirk at IPL and point out the rather lukewarm attention he and other one-size-fits-all players have received from fans. “I found a way to deal with the reactions and create an atmosphere around me. Because I don’t play in the IPL. IPL players get a lot more credit and so be it. They deserve it. So I’m not a big person to really let go and appreciate people kissing my ass for doing something I’m supposed to do! “

They are tough cricketers with a high pain threshold, both mentally and physically. From their wonderful years, for them, a game day would mean a dawn-to-dusk schedule. A good move was to get their attention, tire the bowlers and wait for the loose balls. Races were rarely offered, they had to be earned.

Unlike those big T20 players, fame didn’t come cheap for them. A 45-ball 15 or two decisive hit at level 3 grandstands could see spin specialists give them legendary status, a million insta subscribers, a price tag of Rs 6 crore and force influential backers to bid. for the colors of India.

Old school cricketers didn’t have the chance to play on flat tracks in the center of lightning-fast outfields with little in the catching position. Elgar and Pujara also had to fight the elements, dealing with cracks that widen on Day 4, and nasty deliveries that leap at you like an angry reptile. Despite the high degree of difficulty, they were masters in the thin margin format where bowlers, like bowling with the cue ball, did not pick up.

Cheteshwar Pujara Cheteshwar Pujara in action. (TO FILE)

In Tests, getting your body dented by missiles fired from 22 meters is not a fault, but a tactic. Not for a single moment did you think that Elgar didn’t have the technique to deal with the short ball or that getting hit on the helmet was an indicator of his slow reflexes. Offering your bat to defend a ball on dangerously tired ground was madness. Batsmen who, by choice, let the red leather mark the flesh get respect in a Test Match locker room.

Early last year, in Gabba’s epic victory, Pujara shared a trade secret after his 211 56 balls where Starc, Cummins and Hazelwood hit him on his helmet, thigh, fingers, chest, his shoulder, back of head and biceps. “There was this crack in the field around the shortest spot where the ball had just taken off. In case I raised my hand in defense, there was a risk that I would glove the ball. Considering the situation of the match and the fact that we couldn’t afford to lose wickets, I decided to let the ball hit my body, ”he said.

It was not a game plan for the weak and Elgar is a certified Braveheart. Writing for The Indian Express, his father Richards shared a conversation with his son on the morning of Day 4. “He said to me, ‘Dad, if they want to get me out, they should break something in my body to get me out of there. They are not going to catch me by hitting me on the body. No way in hell, ”he told Sriram.

The more valuable than Elgar’s 96 * cent was a round with gravity. There he was at Wanderers loyal to the batting school he proudly represents. It was a round of substance that moved practitioners and admirers of this good old Test-match style stick that is slowly fading, regardless of their known inclinations.

You could feel the pitch of the voices of Sunil Gavaskar and Hashim Amla in the comments box. Elgar even matched Twitter’s Tom & Jerry – Michael Vaughan and Wasim Jaffer – for once. BJP MP, former India opener Gautam Gambhir and top Congressman former Finance Minister PC Chidambaram also took their hats off the South African captain.

Who doesn’t love to see a gritty eternal judge, the keeper of cricket’s golden past, get their due?

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Sandeep Dwivedi

National sports editor


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