Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Proteas opener Dean Elgar and New Zealand left-arm seamer Neil Wagner’s rivalry has been simmering since they were both in school in South Africa. But, they are now looking forward to resurrecting it in the three-Test series that starts on Wednesday.
Prior to moving to New Zealand and going on to represent the Black Caps, Wagner, who was born in Pretoria, honed his skills while he was at the Afrikaans’ Boys High School, which is the same institution that produced South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers and Test skipper Faf du Plessis.
Elgar, on the other hand, went to St Dominic’s College in Welkom, which is near Bloemfontein.
With that in mind, the duo looked back fondly on the encounters they had at the school and provincial levels.
“Free State against Northerns – it used to be pretty feisty,” Elgar told reporters. “There’s a lot of Afrikaans people in those two teams and it was pretty heated. It was all in good spirit and I guess we were all playing for careers we never thought we could have back then.”
Reminiscing about the days he played against Elgar back in South Africa, Wagner said: “We’ve had a lot of battles on the field as young boys, from school cricket going onwards, we hated playing against each other.
“But Dean is a great man. I do like sitting afterwards having a beer with him but, yeah, we hate playing against each other. I guess it is part and parcel of the job.”
The first Test of the three-match series will be held at the University Oval in Dunedin, where New Zealand have played seven Tests and never been beaten.
Despite that daunting record, Elgar made it clear that South Africa are up to the challenge.
“Good for them, I guess,” he said. “It’s something for us to try and correct.
“It’s a very non-South African style of cricket we need to play and we need to find our niche very soon. We need to adapt, assess the conditions as soon as possible and try to throw the first punch.”