Aiden Markram: ‘It’s time to play with more responsibility’

The South African batsman braces up to face the potent Indian spin attack in upcoming Tests.

Aiden Markram en route to his 161 in Mysuru against India ‘A’.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

The South Africans have their task cut out in the upcoming Test series against India.

The home team has three fine spinners in Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav in the ranks, and the conditions are more than likely to assist the slow bowlers.

Aiden Markram has done his best to prepare well for these challenges. He and his mates were put through the paces in a week-long spin camp held at Bengaluru, before competing in a first-class fixture against India-A here. Against a good bowling line-up comprising of the likes of Kuldeep, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav, Markram scored an exceptional 161.

‘Under no illusions’

“It was nice to spend time at the crease. Being successful comes down to having self-confidence, which you gain from playing good knocks like this one. But I’m under no illusions that the pitches for the Tests will be as batting-friendly as this one,” Markram said.

The 24-year-old does not subscribe to the belief that younger players like himself can be afforded leeway just because South Africa is a team in transition. “It’s time for me and other younger guys to play with more responsibility and start winning games for South Africa. We cannot continue to play the fearless and expressive cricket that we did before,” Markram said.

‘Blessing in disguise’

Markram’s journey to international cricket has seen its fair share of ups and downs. He first shot to fame when he led South Africa to the 2014 Under-19 World Cup, but after that high, he found it hard to secure a domestic contract. “When you are young, you expect things to happen a lot quicker. I didn’t get a contract, so I was forced to play ‘B’ side cricket. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I learnt a lot, especially about red-ball cricket,” he said.

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The elegant batsman worked his way into the Northerns first-class side, before making his Test debut in 2017. He established his class with scores of 97 and 143 in his first two Tests, against Bangladesh, and followed this up with a fine knocks of 125 and 94 against Zimbabwe and India respectively. In October 2017, he received the honour of leading the South Africa ODI team, standing in for injured regular skipper Faf du Plessis.

‘Massive privilege’

“I never thought my career would shape like this. It’s a dream to represent my country, never mind to captain it. The captaincy took me by surprise; it’s a massive privilege. There have been quite a few lows and highs in this short time,” he said.