Proteas

Proteas: Markram’s push for ALL formats

2017-11-22 11:45
Aiden Markram (Gallo)

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 brisk 66.

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 position.

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

Read more on:    proteas  |  aiden markram  |  cricket
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