Cape Town - His
inviting flexibility in the batting order.
If enough justification
hadn’t yet surfaced to some - and wow, aren’t they hard taskmasters? - for
Aiden Markram to be on the plane for the Proteas to the World Cup in May, it should
finally have done so with proof of that extremely useful attribute on Sunday.
blazing century for the Titans by the powerful, elegant right-hander, this time
batting at slightly unorthodox number four, characterised the one-sided
Momentum One-Day Cup showpiece against the Dolphins as the men in blue
prevailed by 135 runs.
A series of
stinkers in decision-making by the officials happened to overwhelmingly impede
the visitors from KwaZulu-Natal, though perhaps not by quite enough to
influence the result; the margin might simply have been considerably narrower.
the enthralling Markram Show largely sidestepped the gremlins, his 127 at
strike rate of 144 making him an obvious recipient of the player-of-the-match
award at Centurion as he hoisted three figures for the third time in the
competition this season.
He began in
reasonably temperate fashion, but gradually erupted into a typhoon of
clear-the-ropes (and then some, often enough) stroke-playing glory, especially
in front of the wicket where he is so enviably strong and decisive.
When he is
on song, Markram tends to match or even eclipse in sixes what he manages in
fours, something borne out again in this match as he notched eight “maximums” (48
runs) to go with his five boundaries in slightly lesser mathematical value (20).
six-hitting relish had certainly been prevalent, too, in his most talked-about
knock of 169 against the Cobras at Newlands precisely a month ago on March 1 -
that time from No 5 and after a severe top-order collapse - when he managed
seven of them at the coastal venue where the ball doesn’t tend to travel as
obviously, the habit is also a signal of a genuine “take the game away” customer,
and a reminder that the 24-year-old shouldn’t just be compartmentalised as a
top-of-the-order contender at CWC 2019, from which it now seems altogether too
unfathomable to leave him at home.
While he is
generally more familiar with responsibility up front, his finishing skills, if
you like, aren’t perhaps as appreciated as they should be: it is not too much
of a stretch to suggest that he could serve the national cause in 50-overs
cricket virtually as effectively anywhere in the top six if need be.
bearing in mind when you consider the possibility that the Proteas could be
well-stocked in, for example, opening batsmen if the national selectors -
convenor Linda Zondi was at SuperSport Park for Markram’s latest domestic
carnage - somehow find a way to facilitate the squad presence of both Hashim
Amla and Reeza Hendricks for the UK-staged event.
berth, of course, is already the virtually guaranteed property of Quinton de
Kock, who will be one of the most dangerous and prolific figures by reputation
in that capacity at the World Cup.
that Markram is not going to be cold-shouldered for a presence in the 15-strong
party to be revealed in mid-April, he looks increasingly like comforting cover - even if not chosen as De Kock’s partner at the front - for any berth from
three to six if, for instance, an anticipated occupier of those roles is not
available or encounters a significant nosedive in form in England.
He is just
too clean a striker of the ball, and a fine picker of length, not to be able to
blossom beyond the top three, even if he will command plenty of support for
duty within that specific terrain.
domestic final on Sunday also confirmed that the Markram package of tricks
isn’t confined to what he does from the crease.
like veteran JP Duminy experienced an injury or loss of mojo at the World Cup,
the young Highveld-born star is also the next best prospect from the frontline
batting ranks to be able to offer three or four overs of passable off-spin.
gets his ticket to the World Cup, too, Markram automatically becomes one of the
most reliable, mobile and skilful fielders in the group - a balancing asset
when you consider that not every SA player there will look noticeably like a
gazelle around the park or muscle-man with his throw-ins.
international level and at important moments of the One-Day Cup campaign for
his franchise this summer, the player has been virtually unerring as a catcher,
whether in the cordon or the outfield, including a penchant - again evident on
Sunday - for making tricky pouches look relatively simple.
your reservations about Markram going?
close to craziness if so.
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