South Africa were utterly dominant, triumphing inside three days against an England team who had won all four of their previous Tests under a new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
The match was. in fact. effectively over in six sessions after rain washed out most of Wednesday’s first day.
“As a playing group it’s a special bunch and we play bloody good cricket when we’re playing well,” said Elgar.
South Africa, already top of the World Test Championship table, were in command from the start.
Their powerful pace attack backed up Elgar’s decision to field first in overcast conditions by dismissing England for 165, with fast bowler Kagiso Rabada taking 5-52 to gain a coveted place on the Lord’s honours board.
The Proteas then strengthened their grip on the game by making 326 in reply for a first-innings lead of 161, with opener Sarel Erwee’s painstaking 73 laying a solid foundation.
What turned out to be South Africa’s lone innings of the match ended during Friday’s morning session and there was still time for spinner Keshav Maharaj, who didn’t bowl in the first innings, to strike twice as England slumped to 38-2 at lunch.
Fast bowler Anrich Nortje ensured the collapse continued with a superb burst of three wickets for no runs in 10 balls before England were dismissed before tea for 149 inside 38 overs, with the innings lasting a mere three hours.
#Proteas captain Dean Elgar spoke highly of his bowling attack after their victory at Lord’s 💯#ENGvSA #BePartOfIt https://t.co/OAcqJnqRq1
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) 1660934151000
This was South Africa’s eighth win in 10 Tests since Elgar was appointed as their red-ball skipper last year, with the opener telling reporters: “I would like to think that what we’ve laid down as a foundation has been pretty true and pretty solid…it hasn’t been fake, it’s been real.”
Even Elgar was taken aback by the speed of South Africa’s victory, which left them 1-0 up in a three-match series ahead of Thursday’s second Test at Old Trafford in Manchester.
“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I’d be doing a press conference before five o’clock,” the 35-year-old said.
And while alert to the dangers of “complacency”, Elgar added: “We need to enjoy these moments.
“We did it at a unique place – a sold-out Lord’s on a Friday,” he explained after what was just South Africa’s sixth win in 17 Tests at the London ground.
Elgar hailed player-of-the-match Rabada, who claimed seven wickets in total, by saying: “He’s an absolute machine when it comes to rising to the occasion for big matches. He put his hand up, he took the bull by the horns and he ran with it.”
Another milestone in the bag 💪The 7⃣th South African to grab 250 Test Wickets#ENGvSA #BePartOfIt https://t.co/jpCuNvK3mo
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) 1660926263000
Before this match, Elgar faced repeated questions about England’s new ‘Bazball’ style, a term that is a reference to McCullum’s nickname.
But Elgar, a veteran of 77 Tests, made it clear there were still certain non-negotiables in the red-ball game, a point he repeated to the BBC in a separate interview on Friday.
“I’m still a purist when to comes to Test cricket,” he insisted. “I don’t stuff around with too many styles of play. I think the game demands and kind of deserves it.”
South Africa, however, are only scheduled to play 28 Tests in the next four years under the International Cricket Council’s future tours programme.
“I guess we could be playing more,” said Elgar. “It’s a sad thing but so be it. I can’t say too much about that because I might get into trouble.”