Cape Town — Proteas centurion Aiden Markram has paid tribute to new coach Shukri Conrad for reviving his Test career.
Conrad’s first port of call after being assigned the new Test team coach was to include Markram in the Proteas squad for the two-match series against the West Indies.
Furthermore, he categorically stated that Markram would return to open the batting instead of floating around in the middle order before he lost his place in the squad for the Australian tour last year.
Markram repaid Conrad’s faith with a superb 115 in his comeback Test after replacing Sarel Erwee at the top of the Proteas batting order. He also shared a 141-run opening stand with former captain Dean Elgar (71) that set up the Proteas’ 314/8 at stumps.
It was the Proteas’ first opening stand in excess of 100 since the first Test against Bangladesh in March last year.
“It felt today like I was starting on a clean slate,” Markram said at the close of play.
“Obviously it was heartsore to not be in Australia. I was given quite clear reasons why I wasn’t on that tour. Us as batters need runs on the board, and if you are not scoring runs, then your position should be under scrutiny.
“It meant quite a lot to me today. It has been quite a strange journey. It always seems to be more special when you do it at your home venue, where there are friends and family in attendance. Lots of relief today too.
“I have come a long way with the coach, and we have a really good relationship and understanding between the two of us. It’s always good when a coach backs you like that, it gives you that extra bit of confidence.
“And then you also want to do him justice. He is always clear about his message and where you stand. I am extremely grateful to be back today.”
The Proteas withered away a healthy advantage after being handily placed at 221/1.
This was due to an impressive burst from Alzarri Joseph (3/60) as the Proteas lost eight wickets - seven in the final session - for the addition of just 93 runs.
Marco Jansen (17 not out) and Test debutant Gerald Coetzee (11 not out) are the unbeaten batters at the crease and will resume on day two in a bid to extend the Proteas’ first innings total.