Winter on the highveld is traditionally cold and dry, but recent days have seen widespread unseasonal rain across it and almost everywhere else in the country. There have been heavy falls of snow on the mountains, and photographs in the newspapers and websites have shown railway stations under metres of water, cars in parking lots floating casually downstream like so many bath-time ducks.

In this type of weather, cricket is not exactly front of mind, although it will slide into the frame as the New Zealanders drift south from two Tests against Zimbabwe shortly to prepare for their twin Tests against South Africa next month.

It's already a nicely poised series. New Zealand are an open-minded, streetwise lot, while the gifted South Africans seem to have taken their fractiousness to the next level. There has been bickering behind the scenes in the latest round of contract negotiations - the threat of free agency is the thing in South Africa at the moment - and we have a board that demonstrates little leadership or grace under pressure. Last season's domestic match-fixing debacle shows no signs of finding closure, and from everywhere comes the fidgetiness of widespread discontent.

This said, self-laceration has become so inimical to South African cricket that it's quite possible to dismiss the angst as so much white noise. South Africa produce good, if slightly unadventurous, cricketers, and it will only need one decent series - and one competitive summer - to remind us all of the country's cricketing riches.

Southern Africa is a naturally fertile cricket crescent. How else does one explain the fecundity that sees a Dale Steyn spring from the copper-mining wastes of Phalaborwa, or Kagiso Rabada need only one spell of bowling (in the televised final of the Under-19 World Cup in 2014) to be fast-tracked to the terminus that is a South Africa cap?

One player who has sailed blithely clear of all the sturm und drang for the last couple of seasons is Dean Elgar. Known variously as "Deano" or "Porra", a not entirely onside reference to what some have erroneously seen as his Portuguese ancestry, Elgar seems happiest to play cricket, remain true to his chirpy self and tiptoe past the mines and booby traps. It is a mark, perhaps, of his emotional intelligence, although it might just be that he's largely unconcerned with anything else. Either way, the strategy has served him well.

In the Titans dressing room he is known as one of the "Three Hyenas", a select group of enforcers, fines dispensers and receptacles of cricketing wisdom who back up their captain and generally charge about in a pack. Roelof van der Merwe used to be a hyena until he hauled his coffin off to the Netherlands (he was replaced by Farhaan Behardien). The third member of the trio is Heino Kuhn.

Last season Kuhn opened the innings for Titans with either Elgar (when he wasn't away on Test duty) or Grant Mokoena. He scored 1126 first-class runs in 20 innings at 62.55, not a bad return for a player who was on a pay-for-play contract because he wasn't deemed quite key enough in the initial contracting round.

Those young men and their parents who bleat about quotas and lack of opportunities and head to England or New Zealand at the drop of a hat would do well to study Kuhn's numbers. Like Elgar, he is no longer a young man, but he has remained loyal to the Titans system, hung around and polished his game. Like Elgar, there has been little toy-throwing, much endeavour and no lack of focus.

The reason Titans won the domestic double last season is due to a variety of quantifiable factors, several of which relate to Kuhn's contributions to good starts, which, in turn, put pressure on the opposition.

Yet every happy dressing room also abounds with currents more difficult to pin down. One has to be Elgar's general sense of mischief. He certainly brings a levity to things. When he was asked recently, for example, who he thought should replace Rob Walter as Titans coach, because Walter is heading to Otago, he didn't pause for thought. "Albie [Morkel]," he replied, "because that way we can hunt and fish during pre-season. It won't be like Rob, who always had us out on obstacle courses and training runs."

Whatever his secret, South African cricket needs more Elgars at the moment. In all the hand-wringing, we have lost sight of what's important, what remains pure and untrammelled in the game we all love. Elgar has kept perspective and so kept the faith.

The first Test against New Zealand is at Kingsmead, where the South Africans have the kind of record that's best ignored. But then it's on to Elgar's home ground, Centurion, a fortress, and a place where he's very much at home.

Luke Alfred is a journalist based in Johannesburg