Aiden Markram is not AB De Villiers.
Like Kallis, he cannot bowl long spells and come into bat and score aplenty. In fact, he can hardly bowl.
Aiden Markram doesn’t take blinders like Jonty or Gibbs. Once he puts the glasses on, he doesn’t transform into a stylish run plundering machine.
Yet Aiden Markram is regarded highly.
How often have we seen a batsman cross 1000 runs before playing his 12th Test?
At 24, Aiden Markram has an entire South Africa expecting the world out of him.
Forget that, despite having not played 20 Test matches, he’s being touted as the future captain of South Africa. In a world where the likes of Steyn, Faf, Amla, Tahir are still scaling heights- how big a compliment is that?
At 24, Markram has already fired 4 Test hundreds, including a knock in excess of 150 and has compiled centuries against India and Australia. These days, anyone can hit a hundred, in a sport becoming ever so skewed toward the batsmen.
But when you score a Test ton against the Aussies or Indians, it speaks volumes about you.
In fact, Markram’s 152 in March 2018, that put South Africa on top, came at the behest of waging an intense battle against Chad Sayers, Pat Cummins, and Nathan Lyon. He didn’t wallop the Australians, going down the track. He was content at putting the bad balls away.
He didn’t try cross-batted heaves; he was content at exploring the gaps square on the off side.
For a cricketer belonging to a T20-age, one favoring big strokes, big bucks, where Cricket is being represented by leagues and half-filled stadia for 5-dayers, Markram combines the alacrity of youth to the wiseness of an experienced campaigner.
To be frank, he seldom resembles a newcomer, which he is. Isn’t he, with only 12 ODIs and a year of cricket under his belt?
Appreciation from Virat
Not always that one gets to see a batsman who holds his own in a contest featuring greats like De Villiers, Warner, Smith, Amla- isn’t it? When Markram scored his best Test century, about half a year ago, in 2018, it drew Virat Kohli to wish him on Twitter.
Not always that a Mike Haysman’s Ravi Shastri equivalent; “Goodness me, what a shot,” seems as refreshing as it did when the bespectacled devotee of South African cricket described a Graeme Smith pull, a Kallis forward defence, or when AB explored his 360-degree range.
Aiden Markram doesn’t terrorize bowlers, but he can exhaust them playing patiently.
Aiden Markram’s copybook strokes do not bewilder fans the way a Virat Kohli cover drive does. But when Markram bats, as he did in his 143 against India, it seems the ball loves coming onto the bat.
The epitome of Proteas fire
He makes the world more appreciative of Test cricket.
In so doing, Markram brings forth a refreshing new element to the Proteas Fire, indicating that one needn’t appear a carnivore of a batsman in mowing down bowlers.
He reinforces the notion that Cricket is still about playing the game with diligence and with a sense of purpose instead of resorting to rash shots, some of which brought curtains to what was an ordinary start to his ODI run, thus far, yielding 278 runs from 12 attempts, just 1 fifty.
What lies ahead?
But at 24, Markram has miles to go as they say colloquially. He’s yet to evidence an absolute loss of form. He’s yet to have his mind frazzled by the mountain of applause he constantly finds around him. At 24, he’s yet to be dropped and witness the many challenges that shape the competitor that hides in the skin of a first-class cricketer.
Yet, it seems, the Centurion-born will cope well in a sport where fortunes are made as easily as they are broken, where journeys may be cut down by sudden run-ins with injuries or fall-outs with cricket boards.
At 24, Aiden Markram has just begun and finds the world around him changing drastically. Kallis is already a thing of the past, De Villiers has retired, Steyn is beyond his peak and Amla cannot always be depended solely on for scoring runs.
Thus, the studious right-hander might find his challenge only becoming more arduous. And in this existential reality surrounding Markram rests the key to examine the cricketer he is, the champion he can be.
Happy birthday Aiden Markram!