Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar admitted on Monday that getting his beloved fast bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada fully fit for the first Test against England is now their main focus as they prepare for the series, which starts on August 17, in Canterbury.

Rabada injured the ligaments in his left ankle 10 days ago and missed the third T20 against England and both matches versus Ireland.

Elgar’s relationship with Rabada can almost be described as a love/hate one because the skipper clearly relies on his great fast bowler, but has also used some interesting tough love motivational tactics to get the best out of him.

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“KG’s fitness is one of our top priorities,” Elgar said. “He has bowled again in the nets, but his workloads are the biggest concern at the moment, ensuring he can handle the intensity and carry himself through several days of Test cricket. But there are still eight days to go before the first Test.”

Elgar is backing his bowling attack to counter the powerful England batting line-up’s ultra-aggressive, sensational ‘BazBall’ approach.

“Good for them (England). They’ve obviously taken a few risks that have paid off, but in conditions that have helped that style of cricket. ‘BazBall’ has caused a few conversations around the world.

“But I’m not too concerned, I’m just focused on my squad. It’s great to have Anrich Nortje back, we’ve missed him because he was injured for most of the last year. He’s big for us, he brings a whole different aspect in terms of pace.

“Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj give us more options coming to the UK, and it’s by no means off the table playing two spinners, they may well start again. But we could also go four seamers and one spinner too,” Elgar said.

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And the skipper says he will not be cussing at his Proteas team-mates in the build-up to the first Test.

“I will give the players more love going into the Test match. I like to think what we’ve created and what I’ve learnt over the last year has given us a lot more resources.”

And amongst those resources are batsmen fresh off good form in the white-ball part of the tour, as well as players who have shone in county cricket – Ryan Rickelton, Harmer and Keegan Petersen.

“We have some brilliant options, we tick all the boxes, with guys from county cricket who have done pretty well. So that’s a massive asset, their experience in these conditions, knowing how the ball will react,” Elgar said.

“Plus our white-ball batsmen have been pretty successful and they’ll be bringing confidence into the series. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

“I’m very much inclined to have those players around who have vast experience in county cricket and use them to our advantage. It would be stupid not to use them even if they’re not playing.

“The biggest thing about Ryan Rickelton is that he was given opportunity and I felt he took it with both hands. Now what he has done on the county circuit with Northamptonshire will be a massive confidence boost for him.

“How we view him is that he’s obviously a massive contender to keep his spot. He’s done everything the right way, he’s put numbers on the board,” Elgar said.

By editor