Markram does a 'Greenidge' ... good sign?

2017-09-28 21:02
Aiden Markram (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Some 43 years have passed since the previous time an opening batsman suffered the misfortune (relative, of course) of being run out in the 90s on debut in a Test match.

The fact that it was West Indies great Gordon Greenidge might just make young Proteas customer Aiden Markram sleep a little more contentedly after he experienced that rare phenomenon on day one of the first Test against Bangladesh at Potchefstroom on Thursday.

Markram, 22, was looking almost as imperious as a commander on the bridge of his frigate approaching home port at triumphant war’s end, when a fatal blemish in communication with his more seasoned partner and Titans franchise ally Dean Elgar saw him cruelly undone for 97.

Visibly mortified by events - truth be told, both could be said to have carried some culpability in the tourists' only dismissal of any kind on the day - the left-handed senior opener fought on to the close, with new partner Hashim Amla also in serene control, to be unbeaten on 128 at stumps.

The host nation were powerfully placed on 298 for one, with 500-plus looking well within grasp if they even wish for that many runs on the board.

First little target on Friday for Elgar, who has typically unobtrusively become the highest run-scorer worldwide in the format for 2017, will be to go past 140, his current best effort for the country.

Markram will be an onlooker from the pavilion, and while no doubt irked by falling three runs shy of a memorable start-out century, chuffed also to have contributed to the Proteas' beefiest opening stand (196) in almost a decade.

There wasn't too much pressure on him or Elgar even from early on, given that before they had amassed 30 runs together they had already posted the best tally for the first wicket in 14 attempts by South Africa.

So have they plugged a rather glaring hole in the country's cause?

It is too early say, naturally: this was modest Bangladesh with their less-than-scary attack (minus ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, too), and the strip, to quote commentator Mike Haysman, was "as placid as the family Labrador".

But it is certainly a most heartening start, and another man behind the SuperSport microphone, former SA left-arm spinner Robin Peterson, noted that this could develop into the best pairing upfront from a balance point of view since the Graeme Smith-Alviro Petersen combination.

Elgar has previously had alliances with Stephen Cook and Heino Kuhn, although there is no truly brazen stroke-player between those three, all being willing grafters above most other considerations.

As Peterson observed: "I like where they are going with (the latest pairing) ... Markram is an attacking player by nature and that means Elgar can do his normal thing."

Kepler Wessels later weighed in with his own style-based appreciation of the right-handed novice: "He keeps very still at the crease, and his good basic technique stands him in good stead."

Who knows just how much activity - if at all - South Africa might have in a second turn at the crease at Senwes Park.

But if Markram feels a little compensated by the news that he and Greenidge share that dismissal nature on first-time Test appearance in the 90s, there is potentially further heart for him to take.

Back in his 1974 debut against India in Bengaluru, now 66-year-old Greenidge (108 Tests in total to 1991, 7,558 runs at almost 45) made up for the first-knock non-century disappointment by blitzing to the landmark in the second innings, where he registered 107...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  aiden markram  |  cricket


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