Former South Africa captain Dean Elgar has opened up on the circumstances that led to his retirement from Test cricket earlier this year, revealing that he was “forced out” following the series loss in Australia.

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Elgar’s full interview appears in issue 77 of Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine. Pick up your copy here.

In a wide-ranging interview with Melinda Farrell, Elgar discussed the controversial circumstances which led to his decision to retire from Test cricket following South Africa’s series against India in December 2023 – January 2024. He was replaced as South Africa’s Test captain by Temba Bavuma in early 2023 after Shukri Conrad took over as full time red-ball coach following their thumping series defeat in Australia.

Asked if he was satisfied with the way the captaincy change was handled, Elgar said: “No, not at all… In that position, if a new coach wants to come in, and new management, obviously you do want a consultation with the current captain and then make a decision. I had quite a good record at that point in time. I think I did pretty well. We went from seven or six in the world to maybe second and we were pushing for the WTC final. It was quite a shock to the system. There could have been a better way of dealing with that and I would have been open to [having that] conversation. I was basically shot in the foot and left in the cold.”

Elgar was appointed South Africa Test captain in 2021 and won his first four series in charge. However, he lost a three-match series in England in 2023 and the following three-match series in Australia 2-0. Elgar also failed to make a single score of 50 or more across 11 innings in those series. However, since the beginning of 2022 no batter has scored more Test runs for South Africa than Elgar (922), and only one player (Bavuma) who’s played five or more matches has maintained a higher average.

Elgar revealed that he considered calling it quits before the India series, instead of after.

“I’d already said to myself, I’m finished,” said Elgar of his decision to play in the India series last winter. “And then my partner said to me, ‘Well, it’s your home ground and Cape Town and you might want to reconsider this’. That took me maybe two months to wrap my mind around, you can still make yourself available for those two venues. And I did that.

“Then I had a very awkward conversation with our head coach two months before that series about my inclusion in the squad to play against India. It was a very unexpected conversation because I was still very much available and I was playing very good cricket, domestically.

“I was told I wasn’t going to be selected and they were going to look at another opening batter to replace me without consulting or asking how long I wanted to carry on. It was just another bomb dropped on my plate but I turned that in my favour by saying I was going to retire after the India series and I felt I deserved that end to my Proteas career.

“I [told] them if they didn’t give me that opportunity, which I think I deserved after 12 years, there might be a bit of backlash a lot harsher than the feedback I’m giving to the journalists now. I felt I had a few more good years in me to still contribute to that side. But the environment for myself, who I am, and everything that I know about what the Proteas are about, it wasn’t sitting well with me and I didn’t want to be associated with that.”

Elgar made a century at Centurion, his home ground, during the India series, which was drawn 1-1. It was the first Test match century he made on the ground, he was finally dismissed by Shardul Thakur for 185.

“It was the most emotional two games that I’ve played, Pretoria more than Cape Town,” said Elgar. “I had most of my family and my close friends there, the only person that couldn’t be there was my mum. And then putting out a performance, I hadn’t scored a Test hundred at SuperSport Park. That was the cherry on the top.”

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