The Maharaj-Harmer partnership – how far can South Africa go with it?
Theirs is an unusual combination – Kingsmead was the first time since 1970 that South Africa had played two spinners in a home Test – but given their skills, could be something that South Africa make use of more often, as they move away from their heavy reliance on pace. On slower, late-summer pitches, South Africa have altered their strategy completely, to the point where they planned the declaration around how best to use the spinners.
Maharaj took the first wicket with a ball that turned away from Mahmudul Hasan Joy and took the edge, and then got Najmul Hossain Shanto with one that didn’t turn as much. After that, Harmer got one to spin and take Tamim Iqbal’s edge. The indecision they created in the Bangladesh batters’ minds underscored their vast experience and ability to build and maintain pressure, which appears to be rubbing off on each other.
“They’ve played a lot of cricket for a lot of years so they know their craft through and through,” Erwee said. “They’ve got different variations, they bowl at different speeds and they’ve bowled in different conditions around the world.”
South Africa’s next Test assignment is in England, where Harmer has enjoyed many seasons of county success and Maharaj has also had goot times. It would seem a no-brainer not only to include them both in the touring party but to even play them in the XI, and their performance in Gqeberha may well be on the selectors’ minds.
“We share a good relationship off the field so you get to know each other and what makes each other tick. Taking that off field relationship onto the field makes you understand your partner a little bit better”
Sarel Erwee on his partnership with Dean Elgar
At the other end of the South African scorecard, in the batting department, another kind of solid partnership is taking shape, with Erwee and Elgar putting up impressive early numbers. In eight innings together, the pair has posted two century and two fifty-plus stands and average 49.62, a vast improvement on the 31.48 that Elgar and Aiden Markram shared. Erwee put their success down to their friendship off the field and their familiarity with each other’s games.
“We share a good relationship off the field so you get to know each other and what makes each other tick,” Erwee said. “Taking that off field relationship onto the field makes you understand your partner a little bit better.”
But does he think, with one hundred and two scores in the 40s, he has done enough to lay claim to the spot in the medium term? “I’ve got to put up some bigger scores on the board to help myself,” Erwee said.
Erwee won’t have any more domestic cricket to do that this season, but he has probably done enough to merit being included in the squad this winter and continue to challenge Markram for the long-term role.
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