Kagiso Rabada happy ’magnificent’ Aiden Markram got some runs
By Stuart Hess 34m ago
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JOHANNESBURG – Kagiso Rabada and Aiden Markram came up through the junior ranks together, achieved the highest honours as teenagers and on Thursday both produced landmark moments in terms of their senior international careers.
For Rabada it was a statistical milestone, for Markram, his innings of 74 could be a career-defining innings. Markram has had to prove himself. Heading out to bat, just before lunch yesterday, Markram’s average in the subcontinent was 10.77 from nine innings.
Over the course of five hours he produced a knock that hitherto had been beyond him.
He eschewed the silky elegant cover drives, didn’t try and bash the ball, but played the bowlers due respect, was happy to absorb maiden overs and in the case of the spinners kick the ball away.
None of that comes naturally to Markram – who is a ball striker who wants to feel that he is moving the game forward.
Yesterday he was happy – for a couple of hours in the afternoon session at least – to stop the game.
He trusted his defence and as Dean Elgar, his opening partner, mentioned at the end of the first day, was happy to earn the right to try and play more expansively later.
There was a little bit of that just before tea with two exquisite flicks against the reverse swinging ball, clipped off his toes through the midwicket.
Post that interval, he’d struck that balance between defence and attack that was beyond the South African batsmen in their first innings.
Markram had to endure pressure of a different kind to that which he experienced against the snarling Australians in Durban three years ago.
Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah probed relentlessly, the pressure building out of the rough and in Yasir’s case through variations, and Markram survived until 10 minutes before stumps.
A ball from Nauman misbehaved slightly, catching the shoulder of the bat, giving Abid Ali a catch at silly mid-off. Markram was devastated, a potentially great innings, would have to be just a very good one. But it will be a significant one for a player with the talent to thrive at international level, and who yesterday displayed another key trait for the best Test match batsmen – temperament.
“He’s a magnificent player,” Rabada said of Markram, who was his captain when both starred for the South African Under-19 side in 2014.
“He’s gone through some challenges like we all do as cricketers. Our job is to overcome those challenges. We are constantly under the spotlight, being criticised, even though we criticise ourselves more than anyone else would.
“You have to try and overcome the challenges and come out on the other side, something you have to do over and over and over again, which is extremely difficult.
“I’m glad he got runs today, he would have loved to get a hundred, and is probably disappointed – but he gave us a real chance of still winning this Test match.”
By comparison with Markram, Rabada has experienced few disappointments in the Test arena.
There’ve been disciplinary issues, but in terms of whether he belongs as a Test bowler, there has never been a doubt.
His statistics put him up among the greats, even if he is only at the halfway point of his Test career.
Speaking on commentary the Pakistani legend Wasim Akram explained that most fast bowlers reach their peak in their late 20s, Rabada, just 25, already possessed and could execute the skills of bowlers normally at their peak.
“He’s three years ahead of time (in his development) as a bowler,” Wasim remarked after KG reached 200 Test wickets.