The young prodigy
In 2014, Aiden Markram became the first South African captain to win an Under-19 Cricket World Cup. At the time, Ray Jennings had labelled him as “the future captain of South Africa”. In addition to his captaincy, he was also named player of the tournament – for his 370 runs at an average of 123. He even scored a crucial 66 not out in the final. This helped South Africa win the final comfortably on what was a tricky UAE pitch.
Aiden Markram’s real test
Aiden Markram made his test match debut in 2017 and enjoyed a prosperous start to his career. He began by scoring two centuries against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at home – albeit against relatively weak bowling attacks. He also scored a fluent 94 vs India in the second test at Supersport Park. This was a game-changing score in the context of the series – given that batting conditions were extremely tough throughout.
His finest achievements though, came against Australia later that year. Centuries at Durban and Johannesburg paved the way as South Africa to won the test series 3-1. Aiden Markram had top-scored with 480 runs at an average of 60 and a strike rate of 64.
However, despite such immense talent, he struggled massively in the subcontinent. Four scores of below twenty versus Sri Lanka outlined his issues against spin. Plus, his tour to India did not bring much success either – notably high score of only 39 in four innings. For a batsman who dominates spin bowling in South Africa, watching him struggle against the same spin in Asia was perplexing.
Aiden Markram – The ODI underachievement
Aiden Markram’s poor ODI numbers are even more bewildering. Given that limited-overs pitches are generally flat, his statistics should be much higher. An average of 28, with only two half-centuries in 24 innings is not good enough for someone of his talent. One would hope that Markram is given a clear role in the future.
Quinton De Kock and Janneman Malan are likely to continue opening the batting. Temba Bavuma will probably slot in at number 3. This leaves Aiden Markram the number four spot, which Faf Du Plessis currently occupies. Markram seems the natural successor to Faf Du Plessis at number four. He may have to pip Janneman Malan for the opening spot otherwise it looks unlikely that he will even be in the starting eleven.
With Faf Du Plessis recently stepping down as South African captain, it seems likely that Aiden Markram could be appointed as test skipper. Graeme Smith has made it clear that Quinton De Kock will only captain in limited-overs cricket. Fellow opener Dean Elgar is the other candidate for test captain. Aiden Markram desperately needs to rediscover his old form and the extra responsibility of captaincy could help him do just that.
Whatever happens, Aiden Markram is a rare talent. However, the question remains whether he can become the next South African superstar?
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