107 overs of chaos

Notes on Aiden Markram's belligerent ton and Jasprit Bumrah's six-wicket haul

Shout out to our new sponsor Nord VPN. Click on their link and get your EXCLUSIVE Deal. Get a Huge Discount off your NordVPN Plan + 4 additional months for free! If you don’t like it, cancel it within 30 days.

We just witnessed the shortest match ever in terms of overs. It was a camera flash. Day two of this Test was a small bag day for Dean Elgar. He didn’t need his main kit, on day two of a Test, and his final. What the fuck.

South Africa lost two wickets early on, which really ended this match. Even 120 could have been fun, but anything under 100 runs is just a few slogs away. That is what happened. Yes, South Africa missed some chances, but that would have only mattered with a larger lead. What a weird arse Test.

Jasprit Bumrah is a class apart (SAK)

I don’t think Bumrah was ‘out of form’ in the first innings either. He did get a lot of plays and misses, so he did have the ability to take wickets at times. I think bowlers are judged a lot more on the number of wickets they take, rather than the type of deliveries they bowl.

It is a bit sad for India that despite Bumrah being the highest wicket-taker in the series since his layoff from injury. He was definitely the standout bowler in a series where Rabada, Burger and Siraj also had a significant impact.

Javagal Srinath bowled beautifully, even when he led the Indian attack in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. It’s quite interesting to see that there are not a lot of Pakistani seamers on this list. Bumrah can move the ball laterally, is quick, and he also likes the extra bounce. Perhaps these conditions suit him more than New Zealand and England.

The fact he’s been able to adjust himself better with every series tells us about how intelligent and skilled he is as a cricketer. He took 14, 12 and 12 wickets in the three tours respectively.

As good as Bumrah has been, the South African bowlers have managed to outdo him when we look at his overall record. He’s better than the other Indian seamers, but it’s not a significant difference. We talked about how one of the reasons that India haven’t won a series here is that even when the Indian seamers have stepped up, the South African attack as a whole has managed to outbowl the Indians.

This gives us a clear picture. His first tour is when he started off well in his debut Test series, but he was still not as good as the others on show. He outbowls his teammates by the second time, but is still worse than South Africa. The third time is when he has outright been the best seamer in the tour across both the teams.

This makes it look a lot more dramatic. It’s not just because of Bumrah that India have improved since his debut, but also because of the Indian seam attack coming together as a whole in the pace-pandemic era.

Aiden Markram’s brilliance (JK)

This was a remarkable hundred. Especially as it came from a player with an average of 36. But obviously, Aiden Markram is better than that. This isn’t too surprising, considering the pitch.

We talked about Kohli, Rohit and Gill’s high strike-rate knocks and how they looked to put the pressure back on the bowlers. Markram did the same thing today, and he also had to bat with the tail. Sadly, it won’t be remembered in the same breath as it would have, had South Africa managed to win.

He started fairly strong with a couple of hundreds and some high scores. He then has a bunch of middling scores, followed by a proper slump of about 10 consecutive innings.

When he attacks, he is a much better player. We’ve talked about this in ODIs, he isn’t a great strike rotator and his defense isn’t as solid. He needs to be looking for boundaries to be at his best, but he isn’t exactly a slogger either.. When he gets into a shell, you can keep bowling length to him and he’ll nick it off on most days.

Markram is a bit like a high-functioning Zak Crawley, who is younger than him. His game is also a little similar to a Hayden or Lloyd, because of their immense power they can just play good cricket shots without taking a lot of risks, that make the bowlers uneasy when he’s at his best.

Markram was dominant on the covers at about the half-way point of his innings. He even hit a few shots down the ground in the latter half of his knock. We’ve seen in limited overs cricket that he can also play pretty well on the leg side. So, he is aware of picking the right scoring areas in certain situations and pitches, which makes us think that he should not be a 36 average batter.

When I went through his innings, I noticed that he was not out only once as an opener. He hasn’t managed to get himself in small chases, or declaration batting in the 3rd innings. These things do matter - there are certain batters who have an unusually low amount of not outs. With five or six more not outs, his overall record would look a little more impressive.

The pitch (JK)

This is just an update on the wicket. I talked about it a lot on the first day, longer than the game actually went on for. This is the Shubman Gill wicket. He waits on the backfoot and his elbow is near the top of his head. Look at how low the ball actually keeps.

I think this wicket was below average when there was steep bounce on Day 1, making it difficult to play normal cricket shots. It was poor when it started to keep low in the last session of the first day.

Had this pitch gone on for another day or so, and the wicket behaved similarly, you’d have to say it was unfit. Very few pitches are actually rated unfit. Because the game finished early, we might not have seen the full variant bounce in the pitch. My guess is that this is wicket is closer to being an unfit wicket. I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t given poor.