What might it mean to an uncapped player who outshines six internationals — three of them members of the Test top six — by scoring a century while the national side’s captain‚ coach and the convenor of selectors look on?
It should‚ you would think‚ earn that player his first cap.
Aiden Markram would not be human if he did not think he had done enough to crack the nod as Dean Elgar’s opening partner in the Test series against Bangladesh, starting in Potchefstroom on September 28.
Markram made 119 for the Titans against the Dolphins in Centurion on Tuesday. Faf du Plessis scored 96‚ Quinton de Kock 54 and Elgar 21.
Markram batted for more than four hours‚ faced 177 balls and hit 18 fours‚ and shared stands of 52 with Elgar and 193 with Du Plessis‚ SA’s captain.
"It was a great innings and Faf also batted well‚" selection convenor Linda Zondi‚ who watched Markram bat along with new Proteas coach Ottis Gibson‚ said on Wednesday.
Zondi said the Test squad should not be a long time coming‚ but it would not have been proper of him to confirm that Markram’s name was already on the list.
And in ink‚ not pencil.
The hamstring injury Heino Kuhn suffered in the fourth Test in Manchester in August lingers still‚ but even if he passes the fitness test, the 113 runs he scored in eight innings against England will not help his chances of staying in the mix.
Markram’s only other challenger is Stephen Cook‚ who lost his place to Kuhn and has responded impressively by banking scores of 120‚ 98‚ 89 not out and 70 not out among his six most recent first-class innings in matches for Durham and SA A.
But has Cook done enough to stop‚ in Markram‚ a man whose time has surely come?
That is for Zondi and his panel to decide‚ and so far in their tenure, they have got it right more often than not.
Zondi admitted, though, that finding a suitable place for De Kock in the Test batting line-up when AB de Villiers returns for the India series in January is going to be a headache.
He said the multitalented De Kock would stay in the middle of the order against Bangladesh, but that a rethink was needed against India for them to strike a balance in the side.
"There are so many things one can get from Quinny because he can open the batting‚" he said.
"But, with that, you have to look at the fact that he keeps as well. Another option with him is that he can bat in the middle, where he has done well for us by coming on and changing the game," Zondi said.
"He can also bat higher up, but I need to spend a little more time with coach Ottis [Gibson] and discuss the different roles with all these players.
"When you have a new coach, he will also have his own mind-set of how he wants to use the players‚ but I am comfortable with the discussions that I have already had with him. "You have AB coming back in January‚ which is a nice headache to have‚ but against Bangladesh, Quinny may bat at five or six," Zondi said.
Elaborating on what they are going to do when De Villiers returns‚ Zondi said a lot hinged on Gibson.
"We will have to decide whether we want to go with seven batters or another system. Ottis and I had a long discussion around these options and they will depend on what we feel is the right solution for any given situation," the convenor of selectors said.