DUBAI: Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has lauded South Africa skipper Dean Elgar for being on the cusp of reaching the 5,000-run mark in Test cricket, saying that it is a great effort for an opening batter to score that many runs in the longest format of the game.
Elgar needs 66 runs in the final Test against England at The Oval to get 5,000 runs in Test cricket. Currently in 78 Tests, Elgar has 4,934 runs at an average of 39.15, including 13 centuries and 22 fifties since his debut in the format in 2012.
"It's a brilliant effort. For an opening batsman to score five thousand runs, it's a great effort. There's no question about that. He's a tough, gritty batsman, knows his game inside-out, knows how to be really effective, and 5,000 runs -- there's not a lot of people in the history of Test cricket who have not been able to do that," said Watson on The ICC Review show.
With Elgar predominantly being a Test specialist for South Africa (he has just eight ODI appearances), Watson feels the free schedule allows the 35-year-old to preserve his body and continue piling up the runs in the longest format of the game, possibly for next four-five years as well.
"Only playing Test cricket, there's enough downtime to be able to stay fresh and keep that freshness for the next four-five years. I'm sure he'll be making the most of that. He certainly can play for another four, five years I think, with his performances still being very high, and he's a great leader around the group as you can see with his captaincy as well."
"He's still got a fair way to go, I believe. It's a big series (against England away from home), and as captain of South Africa, he's doing a brilliant job. It's an incredible achievement, that's for sure."
South Africa are continuing their push for a spot in the World Test Championship final, and a possible win over England at The Oval will move them level with Australia on top with 70 per cent points. Though South Africa haven't won a Test series in England in their last three attempts, Watson feels there is a belief in the Proteas under Elgar's leadership to change the trend.
"He's always talking pushing the limit to how good they can be, and not just being happy and settled with what's going on right now. We've seen that in the England series so far, especially with the first Test match. They've got a seriously good team."