Elgar gets CSA contract in Smith's place
Dean Elgar has been awarded a national contract, in place of the retired Test captain Graeme Smith. The list remains at 17 players, with seven signed on for two years and the remaining 10 on one-year deals. CSA also announced 12 players who received high performance contract, which includes Kyle Abbott, who played in the Newlands Test, and Under-19 World Cup winner Kagiso Rabada.
Elgar lost his contract when the most recent list was announced two days before the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth. On the same day, Elgar was informed he was going to play in that match, because South Africa were returning to a seven specialist batsmen strategy.
Illness to regular opener Alviro Petersen the night before the game meant Elgar would also bat in his preferred position at the top of the order rather than at No. 6. He survived Mitchell Johnson and scored a gutsy 83, helping South Afrcia set up a match-winning first-innings total. With his part-time left-arm spin, Elgar also took the wicket that gave South Africa victory when he trapped Nathan Lyon lbw and it was given out despite the edge.
His performance in that match meant Elgar could not be dropped for the deciding Test at Newlands even though Petersen had recovered from his upset stomach. To accommodate both Petersen and Elgar, South Africa shuffled their batting order and allowed Elgar to bat at No. 3 and Hashim Amla at No. 4.
Given South Africa's showing, it is too early to say whether it was a good tactical decision and it may not even be necessary to do so. With Smith's retirement, Elgar has been tipped to move back into the opening berth, where he will partner Petersen, thus replacing Smith in more ways than one.
"Dean is the obvious replacement and must be excited by the opportunity to emulate the greatness achieved by his recently retired national captain," Haroon Lorgat, CSA CEO said. "He has all the attributes and qualifies as the next player eligible to be awarded a contract."
In addition to identifying Elgar as part of the succession plans, CSA has also earmarked a dozen franchise players. Among them are three spinners, Simon Harmer, Eddie Leie and Aaron Phangiso and four other top-order batsmen. Rilee Rossouw, Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma and Stiaan van Zyl have all been suggested as replacements for the likes of Smith and Jacques Kallis in the long term and this is a nod to that theory.
"This is investment in our future," Andrew Hudson, CSA's convener of selectors said. "Close monitoring of these exciting young players so that we can provide the best chance of developing their careers to the full potential."
Players on two-year contracts: AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn
Players on one-year contracts: Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
High Performance contracts: Kyle Abbott, Temba Bavuma, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Eddie Leie, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Stiaan van Zyl, Khaya Zondo
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent