Border's Marais continues to astound
Border's world record holding batting maestro Marco Marais has started the new season with a vengeance, likely rewriting the Border record books after an incredible start to the Africa Cup T20 competition.
Marais, who broke a 96-year-old world record last year, scoring the quickest triple hundred in first class cricket history (off just 191 balls), is up to his old tricks again, albeit in the shorter format of the game.
By the end of Saturday afternoon, having played in all three of Border's matches in the competition so far, Marais had racked up an incredible 284 runs in three innings without losing his wicket, carrying his bat through all three as a makeshift opener and scored back to back hundreds against Namibia (103) on Friday afternoon and Mpumalanga (106) on Saturday morning.
The only reason he couldn't celebrate three T20 centuries in a row, which was looking very likely, was because Kenya did not score enough runs, only managing 130 in their 20 overs, so Marais had to settle for an unbeaten 75 in that match on Saturday afternoon.
Although not confirmed yet, a number of Border, Africa Cup and possibly SA provincial records may have fallen.
“To be honest I just play, I am not somebody who goes and looks at the records and says I want to break this record and stuff like that,” admitted Marais.
“I am fortunate and humble enough to have a world record, which I thought was never going to happen, but even scoring back to back hundreds and a 75, if you had told me I would do that before this tournament I would have laughed at you.
“But it is just one of those things, if it happens it happens, just always stay humble and keep your feet on the ground.”
“When I scored the 300 I am going to tell you the same thing, nobody rocks up to a tournament and thinks they will score back to back hundreds and then back it up with a 75, especially in the T20 format. “I think its just a matter of sticking to your game plan and backing your skills.”
Amazingly it is also the first time that Marais has opened the batting in his career, more known as a lower order slugger, coming in at either five or six most of the time.
“I just actually asked Frankie (Border coach Frank Plaatje) if we could take a chance and let me open at the start of the season, because obviously we lost Gionne Koopman to Northerns,” explained Marais.
“I know it is easier to hit boundaries in the power play because you can only have two guys outside the circle, so I just thought I'd take a chance, throw it in there and luckily it is paying off.” Marais has not had to change the way he plays, even though he is now opening instead of coming in further down.
“I think it's just a matter of preparing mentally before the game, it is not three day cricket or 50-over stuff, what I do enjoy is that Frankie doesn't hold me back, he basically just tells me you go out and play, and if I do make mistakes we will have a chat and assess what to improve on for the next game.
“But I am just lucky and happy to be opening.”
Despite people possibly questioning the calibre of opposition that Marais has had to face so far, he is not worried about that at all.
“Some people will say that you playing against this team, they are not proper opposition and stuff like that, but I say that to score runs you still have to go out there and do it, it doesn't just magically happen, you have to switch on before the match and focus on the job at hand.
“These are all provincial and even international cricketers here, so it is not easy, you still have to execute your game plan and also maybe get a bit of luck too.”
When the regular season gets under way next month, Marais is not planning on making a change in the longer formats.
“I would rather bat six in the three day format and in the 50-over format it is whatever the team needs, depending on the situation I am happy to do.”
Marais will be back in action on Sunday in Border's final pool match of this years Africa Cup T20, knowing that he needs to help his team get a win over provincial rivals EP if they are to have any chance of progressing to next weekends final weekend.