You can’t get me: Aiden Markram takes a short ball from Pat Cummins on the helmet during his innings of 143 on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS
You can’t get me: Aiden Markram takes a short ball from Pat Cummins on the helmet during his innings of 143 on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS

The late, great New Zealand batting technician Martin Crowe, who would have turned 56 on Saturday, once said the same party trick does not always come off in a Test match.

It may not be his exact words but Australia applied this concept on Aiden Markram.

Sure, an accurate, relentless and hostile short-ball attack is enough to have most sane batsmen committed, but the idea of "once bitten twice shy" does not work for everyone.

An over before tea from Pat Cummins, Australia’s cannonball among the rapid-fire machine guns that razed the Proteas first innings and the better part of the second, seemed to have confirmed this.

The perfume ball was not the go-to on this slow surface but the armpit tucker that makes a batsman’s elbow contort like a chicken wing.

It is the one that cramped Markram for space just before tea on Friday. His dismissal was the catalyst for the cataclysmic collapse that followed in the evening.

Cummins steamed in from the Mngeni End and tried the same thing with the break on the horizon. Cameron Bancroft’s bucket hands were not waiting at short leg but Cummins was coming, not going. The armpit tucker came. It denied Markram room. The shot was repeated but the hands were softer, sponging the ball’s impact. The ball landed within the pitch’s cut strip.

Even if Bancroft was manning the short-leg trenches, it would have been a superb catch if he pulled it off. Cummins was not done and he kept coming.

Just after 4pm, when Markram somehow departed from his solid mental shell and nearly got himself run out while chasing his third Test hundred, Cummins kept coming.

This time he unleashed a serpent of a delivery that on past Kingsmead surfaces would have made watchers whinge and hiss. He closed his eyes and the chicken wing formed again.

The ball missed his glove but deflected to slip off his helmet. Steve Smith was convinced the future Proteas captain was out and used the review, in vain.

Cummins kept coming and smacked him on the elbow. It was a painful blow but one that raised the white flag from Cannonball Cummins.

Markram was dirtied, down, but definitely not out. It forced him into wearing an arm-guard as a statement of intent, screaming "I shall not move".

If ever there was an "I was there" moment, this was it. The hurried run and the crazy dive betrayed an anxiety brought about by a run out on 97 in his debut against Bangladesh and his exit on 94 at his home Test at SuperSport Park against India.

Kids are meant to get dirty but the stain Markram acquired in his desperate century dive is one to be cherished.

Whatever the result, Markram graduated from B-grade tons against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh into the Academy Awards batting realm.

Crowe, who never scored a Test 100 against SA and played his last Test while Markram was learning how to walk, would have been proud.