After three successive blanks, Aiden Markram found his form to smash a dynamic 94 after Durham were forced to follow on against Leicestershire.
After an opening stand of 152 with Cameron Steel, Markram was cruelly denied a deserved century when he was trapped lbw by the left-arm spin of Callum Parkinson. Steel had contributed 46 off 159 balls.
If ever there was a resolute stand needed, it was now, when Durham was asked to follow on 256 behind after mustering just 184 in reply to Leicestershire’s 440.
Markram took the aggressive approach, stroking 16 fours in his 156-ball innings, at a strike rate of 60.
Signed on a short-term contract until the end of May, Markram endured a horrendous start to his county career. He earned the dubious record of becoming the only player to have two ducks in one day, on debut – as 21 wickets fell in the opening game of the season – against Kent.
The fact that so many wickets went down on day one showed how brutal conditions were in the early part of the season, when winter has barely loosened its grip.
The Proteas’ star opener, who was rated among the world’s top 10 batsmen after just 10 Tests, then sat for four days watching the rain come down in Northampton. In this third-round match, he was bowled after four balls as Durham tumbled to 14-4.
But on a more balmy day in Chester-le-Street – home of Durham CCC – where the temperature ‘soared’ to 23°C, Markram finally got the measure of the pace of the northern wicket.