Proteas get what they haven't had for a long time thanks to Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar
PRETORIA – South Africa’s opening batsmen, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram earned heaps of praise from teammates and coaching staff for providing what’s been missing from the batting for too long – a good start.
The pair shared a 141-run first wicket stand that provided the ideal foundation for South Africa’s mammoth first innings total of 621. Century stands have been all too rare for South Africa.
Until Sunday, it had been three years since there’d last been a hundred run partnership for the first wicket for the Proteas. Back then it was also Markram and Elgar, against Bangladesh.
South Africa’s struggles with the bat in recent years, very much stem from the inability to get good starts and it has had a big impact on performances overall.
“Dean and Aiden really gave us a lot of momentum,” said Proteas captain Quinton de Kock. “That lifted the rest of the guys. It was still a very difficult pitch to bat on. I know they had injuries, but we were still quite positive.”
Both missed out on landmarks. Markram was dominatent in making 68, but gave his wicket away by slashing the ball in the air to gully and wore anguished look of a man who felt he left a Test hundred on the table.
Elgar got much closer - within five runs before clipping the ball back to the bowler. He too was left crestfallen. But they had done the hard work in providing a proper foundation.
“We’ve been losing wickets too early in recent years,” Faf du Plessis, the man of the match had said on Monday evening. “When I started (playing Test cricket) we used to have Graeme (Smith) and Alviro (Petersen) and we regularly had good starts. We’d get to 50 without loss and it just relaxes the dressing room. It sets up the innings and guys like Hash, AB, Kallis or myself could play.
“In our innings here, a lot depended on that start, and going forward that will be important for us.”