South Africa, South Africa U19, South African Invitation XI, Titans, South Africa A, Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, Durham, Paarl Rocks, Hampshire
A young prodigy who shot through the ranks, Aiden Markram was a flamboyant stroke-maker from an early age and rose to fame after he had a dream run as captain of South Africa and led them to the U-19 World Cup title. Having been picked on a selection whim after unimpressive numbers in the lead-up to the tournament, he repaid the faith of the selectors and contributed handsomely to end the tournament as the Proteas’ highest run-scorer and lifted the cup in a nation frustrated and haunted by the c-word. Markram looked confident from the outset - when asked to list three words that best described him, he mentioned ’Positive, confident and responsible,’ and he went on to live up to it in the tournament. However, after being touted as the next 'big thing' in South African cricket, form and consistency deserted him, resulting in more consistent players edging him out for a few years. Injuries did not help his cause and Markram seemed to have lost his spark completely. Like the stereotypical superstar losing his way, he seems to be seeing an early decline. However, with age on his side, and some tough competition in the national circuit, Markram continued to work on his game to make it to the national team. With great composure and focus, and a crafty-yet-airtight technique which he can adjust as per the situation, Markram has a calm head on his shoulders and the confidence to go with it. Primarily an off-side player with a compact opener’s technique, Markram brings a wider repertoire of shots to a generally conservative South African top-order. An apprentice of Mark Boucher, Markram slowly started to redeem himself at the first-class level and raised him game to a whole new level, averaging over 50 in the 2017 season. After a streak of consistent performances, a virtue that had eluded him in the past, Markram, at long last, made it to the Test fold when he was called up for the England tour in September 2017. Nonetheless, he received the coveted Test cap for the Proteas in the home Tests against Bangladesh and had a dream series, scoring 255 runs in 3 innings and ended the series with an average of 255. In the historic 4-Day Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe, he exhibited old-school grit and determination against a probing Zimbabwean attack on a seaming Day 1 track, and stroked his way to a chance-less hundred after the pitch flattened out. He started off well against India in the home series in 2017/18 with a 94 in the Newlands Test and laid the platform for victory that helped South Africa regain the freedom trophy. With age on his side and a potentially long career ahead of him, Markram has burst onto the international arena with renewed focus and the intent to score big; to avoid repeating the mistakes he made in the past. He has the fundamental requirements as an opening batsman, and possesses a good blend of defensive technique and aggressive strokeplay. However, tougher challenges lie ahead of him, and only time will tell if he can replicate his home performances in tougher conditions. For now, South Africa would be content with their solid opening pair. What to expect in the 2019 World Cup? Aiden Markram made the final 15 cut at the last minute. He and Reeza Hendricks were both fighting for the back up openers spot and it came to Markram as a combination of his runs in the domestic 50-over competition and Hendricks' failure to score big runs in the national team. Though there are still question marks over his inclusion, Markram is one of the few who have won a World Cup for South Africa before - U-19 in 2014. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock will be the first choice openers for South Africa but Markram will fancy getting a game in the tournament, especially considering Amla's form coming into the event. He will bring his flair and composure at the top and will be a good mix with de Kock.