Johannesburg – Aiden Markram scored his fourth Test century in just his 10th Test on Friday as South Africa put themselves in a strong position at the Wanderers.
Markram was simply majestic, looking in complete control from the very first ball he faced.
When he worked a Nathan Lyon delivery to deep square leg, Markram had three figures in almost effortless fashion and the sizeable Wanderers crowd erupted.
It took the 23-year-old 152 balls to bring up his ton, hitting 11 fours and one six along the way.
He is still relatively green at international level, but there is no doubt in anybody’s mind anymore that Markram is the real deal.
Whether he captains his country or not in the years to come, he will score thousands of runs for South Africa.
At tea on day one, South Africa were 177/2 with Markram 111* and AB de Villiers 8*.
It leaves Markram on 922 Test runs in this, his 17th Test innings. If he gets another 78 before being dismissed, he will equal Graeme Smith as the quickest South African to 1 000 Test runs.
That is still a while away, though, and after tea Markram will instead be focused on batting his country into a position where they cannot lose this Test match.
It has been tough going for the Australians, but they have kept plugging away and there has at least been some reward.
Nathan Lyon had removed Dean Elgar (19) before lunch, but when Hashim Amla got settled with Markram, it looked like it could be a long, grinding day in the field for the Aussies.
Amla hasn’t fired this series – his top score coming in Port Elizabeth in a well-played 56 – but he has had starts without capitalising.
It was the more of the same on Friday.
Having done all of the hard work in getting in, Amla gave it away with a loose drive off Pat Cummins to be brilliantly caught by Peter Handscomb for 27.
Amla’s last five innings scores now read: 27, 31, 31, 56 and 27.
When he was dismissed, Amla had put on 89 runs for the second wicket with Markram.
That brought De Villiers to the wicket, who started slowly by his standards. His wicket, as always, will be key to the Australian cause after tea.