Cape Town – Much sterner examinations of his international
abilities lie in wait soon, but the almost unfailing Aiden Markram is already
making a powerful case for regular Proteas selection across all three formats.
Two boxes have already been ticked, of course, on the
23-year-old’s route to widespread recognition by his country, courtesy of his
two maiden Test matches against Bangladesh earlier this season and a prosperous
first appearance in the one-day international arena as well.
He is off to a rollicking start in both codes: the hungry
right-hander amassed 255 runs at an average of 85 in the two-Test series,
including a first century (143) in the second clash at Bloemfontein.
But when handed a maiden ODI opportunity in the East London
fixture against the same foes, he grabbed that with both hands too, scoring a
Now, reverting to domestic action with his star-studded
Titans outfit – showing menacing signs of becoming a unit not unlike the famous
Transvaal “Mean Machine” of old, just down the highway –Markram is also reminding
everybody in no uncertain terms that he is no slouch at the most abbreviated
limited-overs game, either.
The Titans already boast a runaway Ram Slam T20 Challenge log
lead after four matches – all wins, just one without a bonus point – and
Centurion-born local lad Markram has played a fulsome role in that healthy
He has batted three times himself, and not yet failed: his
contributions, from most recent, are 51 not out against the Cobras, 45 against
the Warriors and 50 against the Knights.
That puts him second (146 at average 73) in total runs terms
in the competition only to Reeza Hendricks of the Lions, who has registered 211
from three knocks, including a century.
It is also only further confirmation that he is more than at
ease in the T20 landscape, as he already boasted extremely decent career
statistics in domestic T20 activity.
From 25 matches in the format, Markram is averaging 34.55 at
a strike rate of 127.
That compares very favourably in figures, for instance, with
two long-time stalwarts of the Proteas cause across the board, Hashim Amla and
AB de Villiers.
In all T20 competition, Amla averages a fraction more, at
34.70, and De Villiers a tad less at 34.12.
He is still in the relatively fledgling stages of his own
career, but that situation tends to suggest that Markram will stick up his hand
vigorously for selection in the three-match T20 part of India’s full tour here
early in the new year, following the Test and ODI series where he should be a
key Proteas figure as well.
The organised, clearly resolute and ambitious youngster is
almost unerring at the crease this season, to the point where it is possibly
going to take a significant reversal of fortune for him not to be the dominant batting
figure of the broader 2017/18 season in South Africa.
Markram has not noticeably flopped in any of his last nine
innings, regardless of team or format.
Apart from those three most recent T20 Challenge knocks
already mentioned, he struck 85 and 81 not out against the Lions in the Sunfoil
Series, 66 in the East London ODI, 67 against the Dolphins in the Sunfoil
Series, 82 for a CSA XI in a one-dayer against the Bangladeshis, plus those
Test scores of 143 in Bloemfontein and 97 at Potchefstroom.
The only mild interruption to that heavy-scoring sequence
was his second innings in the “Potch” Test, where he was dismissed for 15 as
the Proteas sought quick runs.
Even as better bowlers line up to test him more rigorously
when India and then Australia tour in the second half of the campaign, Markram
is presently showing few glaringly obvious shortcomings at the crease.
He is assertive on the front foot, putting his weight
gloriously to the ball in cover drives a little like Jacques Kallis used to do with
relish at his prime, picks up the short ball well and his defence seems
technically sound for the most part as well.
Who’d bet confidently in favour of Markram being “found out”
by both superpowers preparing to visit?
I’m not parting with a dime …
*The Titans are next in T20 Challenge action against the
Dolphins at Benoni on Friday (18:00).
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing