Dean Elgar, 35, is one of the fiercest cricketers that South Africa have produced. In fact, he is also their leading run-scorer in the recent time in the longest format but come of criticism, the left-hander is his own biggest critic.
"From a relatively young age, I was always that person who was pretty hard on myself and my biggest critic. What people write and say about me now - that can't penetrate my skin. I'm the critic in my career," Elgar told ESPNCricinfo.
Since he has taken over as the captain of the Test side, Elgar is the leading run-scorer in the longest format. In the ongoing World Test Championship cycle, the left-hander has scored 517 runs, just ahead of the vice-captain Temba Bavuma. Elgar insisted that his currency to the national team is and will always be ‘runs’.
"I feel it's my duty to still be Dean the captain and also be Dean the cricketer. My currency is runs, first and foremost. That's how I was selected for the side."
Ahead of the three-match Test series against England, the 35-year-old presses that the Proteas have only one intention: to win. Towards that, the left-hander wants the team to put their best foot forward.
"I don't play to lose. I absolutely despise losing. And if we play an average brand [of cricket], or we're not putting our best foot forward, and we don't have results going our way, then that affects me quite a bit," he says.
"This is a massive series for all of us. I think we've got 17 players and it's massive for all 17 of us to go out there, play a brand of cricket that appeals to South Africans and ultimately gives us the best chance of winning in England. We've seen it happen in the past before, so we know it can be done.”
Earlier this year, South Africa were not favourites in the home series against a dominant Indian side. However, they showed some resilient cricket, to shock everyone with a massive series win over Virat Kohli’s men. Elgar wants to maintain the standards from that series, stating that they could do it yet again against England.
"We played against the best in the world last year [India, then-ranked No. 1], and I think we did things that we didn't quite expect to do at that time. So the standard that we've set and the bar that we've raised since last year has happened pretty naturally just out of us doing good things on the field again.
With age not on his side, Elgar isn’t too fazed. The left-hander, in fact, insists that he will always be around for the Proteas. However, if the situation demands of him to quit from the game, the 35-year-old will not extend his stay in the Proteas’ colours.
"I'd like to still try and contribute as much as I can to the Proteas. I've always said as long as they want me around, I'll be around. I still feel I've got a hell of a lot left in me. But the minute that cloud has come over you and you get a sense you don't really belong here as a player anymore, I'd be pretty mindful and realistic around that. And probably end my career playing county cricket."