Durban: South Africa’s opening batsman Dean Elgar believes spinners could prove decisive in their home series against Australia, which has been hyped as potentially a blood-curdling battle between the two teams’ pace attacks.
South Africa, under new coach Ottis Gibson, are expected to employ four pace bowlers as well as spinner Keshav Maharaj in a change to the team’s balance.
Elgar says Maharaj could be a match-winner in the four-Test contest that begins on Thursday.
“I think against Australia you potentially need to slow the game down, which they probably aren’t used to. A guy like Keshav has played well against them in the past, so he’ll play a big part in the series,” Elgar told a news conference on Tuesday.
”I think either way the spinners are going to have an influence in the Tests, even if it’s holding up an end or trying to be attacking, which some surfaces might allow.
“It is a bit of a battle of the seamers, but there is a world-class spinner in both sides, so it’s going to be exciting Test cricket.”
Australia have spinner Nathan Lyon who took 21 wickets in the 4-0 thumping of England in the Ashes.
Both South Africa and Australia come into the series in good form and playing with confidence.
Australia have not lost a series in South Africa since 1970 and have been buoyed by their Ashes series win against England, while the home team have beaten Australia in Australia in three consecutive series - the last of which was a 2-1 win in November 2016.
“Our previous encounter is a fond memory for us,” Elgar said of that win in Australia.
“Having the ability to beat them in Australia is an encouraging factor, knowing that the last time we played against each other we had the upper hand.”