Aiden Markram works the ball off his hip against Bangladesh on Thursday. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

POTCHEFSTROOM – Three extra runs would have been nice, but Aiden Markram was “more than happy” to take 97 in his innings as a Test player – matching his brand new cap number.

Don’t mistake his philosophical take about the score he made on Thursday as a sign of softness.

He made an impact, and if he shows the same kind of temperament he displayed on the opening day, that first Test century won’t be long in coming.

As it was, he can satisfy himself with putting South Africa in a strong position.

The 22-year-old, one of two debutants playing for the Proteas here, said he’s talked to selection convener Linda Zondi about what will be expected of him.

Naturally runs was part of Zondi’s answer, but he also sought to assure Markram that he should allow himself time to get comfortable in the Proteas environment.

“He told me not to put pressure on myself; I will be a given a fair run, and that’s nice to hear as a player because making your debut, you’re already putting a lot of pressure on yourself. That did calm me down.”

There are a lot of expectations on Markram. As national under-19 captain he won the age-group World Cup, so Proteas captaincy is already in his future.

And for now, he’s expected to also flourish as a Test opener, a far from easy task in this country.

“You have to get used to it I suppose,” Markram said about the expectations. “It’s not always the nicest pressure to deal with because you don’t want to let anyone down.

“I’ve genuinely just tried to block it out, because it’s a needless pressure to put on your shoulders. It’s there, I’m aware of it.”

He’ll do well to take some tips from the phlegmatic Elgar, who put aside his own disappointment for his part in Markram’s run out to register a ninth Test century – his fourth for the year – to once again top the run-scoring charts for 2017 in the five-day format.

 

“He was extremely, extremely upset,” Markram said of Elgar’s mood at the tea interval, which came shortly after his dismissal. “We’ve come a long way, developed a friendship, it was tough for him.”

The pair had driven down to Potchefstroom together on Tuesday, with Elgar no doubt pointing out the demands of Test cricket.

“He’s got a very hard personality, he’s a proper fighter, and it reflects in his cricket. He puts his hand up when times are tough, he doesn’t score his runs when it’s easy, and that really helps the side.”

Markram will sleep far easier on Thursday than he did the night before. He’s made a play in his initial forays into the Test arena, and it will help relieve some of the expectations there are about him – for now.

 

IOL Sport