Markram‚ Philander denied their due at Bullring
The Wanderers isn’t the easiest place to keep all of the people happy most of the time‚ even for players of teams they support. And even if those teams do well.
So there would have been dark muttering into many beers on the first day of the third Test between South Africa and Pakistan in Johannesburg on Friday.
What not to like about a day’s play that ends with the opposition reduced to 17/2 in reply to your side’s 262?
That Aiden Markram didn’t get his hundred. And that Vernon Philander missed a hattrick. Bloody idiots.
And let’s not get started on South Africa losing seven wickets for 36 runs after tea.
So the Pakistanis have a decent pace attack who know how to bowl using the old ball? So what — what’s your point?
Markram played with poise and purpose for his 90‚ his best effort in nine innings and almost 10 months‚ before feathering a leg-side catch to the wicketkeeper.
Philander‚ granted only four overs before stumps‚ used them superbly. He conceded a solitary single and had Shan Masood and Azhar Ali caught behind with consecutive deliveries that sniped and seamed to find the edge.
But words like “tragedy” would have been misused when Markram was dismissed‚ and groans followed Imam-ul-Haq getting enough bat on Philander’s next delivery to stay out of trouble.
More unhappiness was made plain during the not quite 20 overs Pakistan needed to wrap up South Africa’s innings after tea.
Good thing departing batters are covered by a plexiglass tunnel for most of their journey from the boundary to the dressingroom.
Not that the Wanderers is the only ground where arbitrary milestones are treated as if they are relics of some ancient religion.
Cricket is riven with the silly things‚ and that clouds appreciation for fine performances that don’t tick the boxes but are no less influential to the winning and losing of a match than those that do. Sometimes more.
If Philander bowls 20 overs on Saturday without taking another wicket but also without giving up another run his reviews won’t be as rave as he would deserve.
Similarly‚ should Markram add a second 90 to South Africa’s total in the second dig he won’t earn the kind of praise that would be given to someone who makes 105 and nought.
There are many ways to spin the deluge of numbers generated by a game like cricket‚ but for too long we’ve celebrated the less important at the expense of what really matters.
That won’t change at the Wanderers or anywhere else for a long time‚ perhaps ever.
Because there’s no pleasing people even some of the time when they’ve been conditioned not to accept anything else but centuries and five-wicket hauls as measures of success.