The fact that the 36-year-old middle-order batsman was born and bred in Johannesburg makes it a little tougher to accept for some local fans, but Elliott himself has long since put that fact, and his World Cup heroics, behind him. In a world where your team is often a foreign country, it’s becoming fairly normal for South Africans to come up against their own kind in international sporting contests.
It’s been an old joke in England cricket circles when one spectator can say to another: “Our South Africans beat your South Africans.” The same doesn’t hold to the same extent in New Zealand, but BJ Watling, Neil Wagner, Kruger van Wyk, Colin Munro and Elliott have certainly flourished in the land of the long white cloud.
Elliott, back in the country of his birth for the first time since the World Cup, was jokingly asked in Durban yesterday who he would support in the Rugby World Cup. “New Zealand, no question,” he replied. I’m an All Black fan now.”
Elliott, who has played five Tests, four T20Is and 75 ODIs for his adopted country, pointed out that Brendon McCullum’s decision in 2013 to stop ’keeping and open the innings created an opening for him. It was a chance he seized upon.
“It was obviously good timing for me with the World Cup coming up. It was a fantastic tournament and I was lucky to be part of such a good team.”
Elliott noted that the tourists – who are contesting two T20Is and three ODIs in the next two weeks – are without the bulk of their World Cup team. “But it gives young guys an opportunity to stake their claim, and it offers us a chance to build more depth, particularly looking ahead to the T20 World Cup next year and the 2019 ODI World Cup.”
Bangladesh recently beat South Africa in an ODI series while Zimbabwe took a game off New Zealand in their recent tour. Asked if this suggested a greater competitiveness in world cricket, Elliott said it certainly indicated as much.
“That’s why tours like this offer such a good opportunity for our young guys to hone their skills in foreign conditions. Someone like Kane Williamson, as young as he is (25), has played in a lot of foreign conditions so we can absorb his experiences. I think we’ve also been given a little more time on these tours and therefore more time to prepare.
“In the past we were sometimes given a couple of days and then we were thrust straight into it. But on this tour, for example, we played a warm-up match (against North West) in Potch before we went to Zimbabwe which was very helpful.”
The Black Caps will have to adjust again for tomorrow’s first T20I. Elliott said the fresh green grass in the Kingsmead nets had the Kiwi pace bowlers licking their lips as they sampled conditions very different to the slow, turning pitches in Zimbabwe and the flat, dead conditions in Potchefstroom. - The StarGrant Elliott will always be the batsman who denied the Proteas a chance to capture a first World Cup.
Original source: Will Elliott punish Proteas, again?