Elgar not ruling out Conway verbals when Proteas face New Zealand

By Sports Desk February 16, 2022

Dean Elgar says the Proteas could serve up some spice for New Zealand's South Africa-born players when the two-match Test series starts at Hagley Oval on Thursday.

Devon Conway will face his country of birth for the first time in Christchurch, where the prolific batter will look to continue an outstanding start to his Black Caps career.

Neil Wagner is another South Africa-born player who is set to do battle with the Proteas once again as New Zealand eye an elusive first Test series win over the Proteas.

The Zimbabwe-born Colin de Grandhomme is poised to return from injury for a Black Caps team that will not include captain Kane Williamson due to an elbow injury, while Trent Boult is absent as he awaits the birth of his third child and Ross Taylor has retired.

Elgar says he does not see Conway as a South African and has not ruled out a few words being exchanged with the left-hander in the heat of a battle.

Asked if the likes of Conway could be in for some verbals, the South Africa captain said: "Maybe, you never know. We respect the background that a lot of the Kiwis have, they have one or two South African or Zimbabwean-born players.

"But the way I view is that they are New Zealanders now and have obviously earned their qualifications, because they've been there for some years now.

"I don't view them as South African players, because they have a different badge on their chest. They've got the New Zealand flag on their chest, so the way I view it is come business time tomorrow, we are going to be all about business when we step over the white line.

"There will be times when we have chats with the guys, because I'm mindful the guys do know some of the guys from back home and that's perfectly fine, but when gameday comes, 11am tomorrow we have to be mindful of what we have to focus on as a side."

New Zealand were held to a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh in their last Test series, while the tourists are on a high from a 2-1 victory over India on home soil.

The Black Caps have only won four Test matches against South Africa and they will be led by Tom Latham in the absence of Williamson.

Latham: Opportunity knocks in the absence of key men

With Boult absent, Matt Henry will come into the New Zealand team and Henry Nicholls is set to move up a spot to number four in the order following Taylor's retirement.

Stand-in skipper Latham said: "Some of the guys that are usually in the squad aren’t here, but it does present opportunities for different guys to step up at different stages.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing they're not here, but that’s professional sport and professional cricket and some days you don't have a fully-fit squad.”

Hamish Rutherford was named in the squad seven years after his last Test appearance, but the opener is expected to be a spectator.


Erwee in line for Proteas bow

Sarel Erwee is poised to make his Proteas debut at number three but after Keegan Petersen was ruled out of the tour due to COVID-19, but Elgar was keeping his cards close to his chest when asked about selection on the eve of the opener.

"We have a clear indication of what our balance is going to be even though we haven’t finalised our team yet," said Elgar.

“Whether to employ a frontline spinner is a hot topic debate for us. It’s one of our bigger decisions, whether there’s space for one in conditions that aren't necessarily helpful.

"History has shown that the spinners don't play too much of a role at the Hagley Oval. So yeah, I can't say yes or no just yet. Maybe wait and see what happens at the toss."

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