POTCHEFSTROOM - Haroon Lorgat’s axing as Cricket SA’s chief executive, overshadowed the Proteas’s good start to the first Test against Bangladesh here Thursday, where Aiden Markram made an accomplished start to his Test career.
While Cricket SA’s administration was reeling Thursday morning, the national team was steadily attempting to right the wrongs it endured in England, with debutant Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar providing a solid foundation in the first session.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s decision to bowl after winning the toss, seems patently wrong, with the Proteas going to lunch on 99/0, Elgar unbeaten on 56 and Markram on 43.
Markram was one of two debutants selected for the opening Test with Andile Phehlukwayo also drafted into the starting team to supplement the bowling options on what South Africa’s captain described as a flat pitch, reminiscent of one that would be used for a one-day international. And that is why many observers were surprised by Mushfiqur’s decision.
The cloudy overhead conditions were negligible, the unusually stiff breeze negated any swing while the pace of the surface also appeared easy. Add to that, that Bangladesh’s strength is their spin and if the pitch continues to dry out, then their spinners would come into the game more and Mushfiqur’s decision at the toss seems stranger still.
As it was, the South Africans were delighted to bat, and Elgar and Markram took full advantage registering the first 50 partnership for the opening wicket for South Africa, since the New Year’s Test against Sri Lanka - eight matches ago.
Elgar was typically gritty, keen to continue the good form that sees him as the second highest run-scorer in Test cricket in 2017. His first scoring shot - after he left every ball in the first over from Mustafizur Rahman - came off the first ball of the third over, a neat clip through midwicket for 3.
Thereafter there were deflections, dabs through gully, and more clips off the legs as he set himself up for what looks like being a lengthy stay at the crease.
Markram meanwhile did very well to hide his nerves as he took his first tentative steps on what many hope and believe will be a long Test career. His first run, was a simple nudge into the off-side off the 10th ball he faced.
He unfurled some powerful cover drives later and took great care against the Bangladeshi off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, who was brought onto to bowl as early as the sixth over - another indication of Mushfiqur having erred at the toss.