Cape Town - Aiden Markram has done more
than just make a dream start to his Test career against modest foes: he is also
underlining his growing hunger for consistent crease occupation at first-class
level more broadly.
Following his maiden Test century (143) in
his third innings in the format against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein on Friday -
the Proteas’ hugely dominant day one of the second encounter - the
recently-turned 23-year-old moved to 255 runs at an average of 85 in the short
series, his fledgling exposure to the most prestigious tier of the game.
That tally naturally includes his relative
misfortune in being run out for 97 in his first knock for South Africa at
Potchefstroom a few days ago, although he has so quickly made amends for that
relative “blemish” by striding to three figures.
This Bangladeshi side contains one of the
most limited attacks witnessed on our soil, especially with ace all-rounder
Shakib Al Hasan missing, but you still have to go about the business dutifully,
and they say it is wise to cash in wherever you can.
Centurion-born Markram has convincingly done
that - and those a little cynical about the limited firepower from the
tourists might do well to consider that his productive showings in the series
thus far also represent an extension of his already very prolific first-class
form in the 2017/18 season.
The right-hander with the close to classical
technique, straightness in his stance and pleasing sense of serenity - a la a
certain Jacques Kallis in several respects - has prospered in every single one
of five personal first-class games (including the two Tests) since the early
“kick-off” to the campaign in mid-August.
So it is not just the Bangladeshis
labouring to contain him: Markram had previously got stuck in royally against visiting
India ‘A’ and also in the first round of the domestic Sunfoil Series, meaning
that as things stand he sports 655 first-class runs in the developing summer (nine
innings) at an average of 72.77.
Do we have a new dominator under
The statistical signs look good in that
regard, even if the pretty benign nature of early-season surfaces needs to be
taken into account.
Markram began by making an important mark
against India ‘A’, considering his own challenge for a Test berth at the time,
plus the resurgent form of vastly more experienced international discard
He rattled up 22 and 79 in the first unofficial
Test in Pretoria, then 74 and 19 in Potchefstroom, before plundering 119 and 87
in a Sunfoil Series fixture against a Dolphins attack including now Proteas
team-mates Keshav Maharaj and Andile Phehlukwayo.
The cycle of success then translated into
the near-riotous launch of his Test career in the past week or two, suggesting
that he may well turn 2017/18 - which includes major home Test series against
India and Australia further up the road - into the season that truly announces
his arrival …
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing