Some say this young man is the glo­ri­ous fu­ture of the SA game

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

SOME say his cover drive is like a Ja­panese bul­let train be­cause it is al­ways on time and it scorches through the field un­err­ingly to the fence. Some say his braai set is or­gan­ised metic­u­lously and he in­sists on an even num­ber of coals in his fire.

All we know is he is called Ai­den Kyle Markram, and he is cur­rently bat­ting in top gear ahead of a much-an­tic­i­pated Test de­but in Potchef­stroom against Bangladesh.

When you men­tion Markram in lo­cal cir­cles, the gen­eral con­sen­sus is he is a crick­eter al­ready show­ing ma­tu­rity be­yond his years.

“He is a man,” Dol­phins coach Grant Mor­gan ob­served, dis­miss­ing the no­tion of young man. “He looks very con­fi­dent at the crease. Usu­ally when a young player comes in, you test his met­tle early with a few short ones to see if that knocks him off his stride. He han­dled that and bat­ted very well. If you stray on ei­ther side of the wicket to him, he will pun­ish you.”

The Dol­phins were the lat­est to try and un­ravel the Markram mat­ter this past week, in the open­ing round of the Sun­foil Se­ries. Knocks of 119 and 87 were the an­swers he came back with as the new Ti­tans skip­per put the clos­ing ar­gu­ments to his case for in­ter­na­tional hon­ours.

Hap­pily, the na­tional se­lec­tors didn’t need much de­lib­er­a­tion and ruled unan­i­mously in his favour. The 22-year-old will prob­a­bly open the bat­ting against the Tigers, along­side Ti­tans team-mate Dean El­gar.

“We want some sta­bil­ity at the top of the or­der and Ai­den cer­tainly looks the part. We have been mon­i­tor­ing him for a while and it ob­vi­ously didn’t hurt his case that he made runs with the coach watch­ing this week,” con­vener of se­lec­tors Linda Zondi said.

Dol­phins seamer Rob­bie Frylinck has been in the fran­chise sys­tem for a decade and more and he echoed his coach’s sen­ti­ments.

“He re­ally looks the part. They need to back him for the next cou­ple of years, to pro­vide him with the sta­bil­ity you need at the top of the or­der. He an­swered all our ques­tions, tech­ni­cally. Very pa­tient. Com­posed at the crease… he has all the shots,” Frylinck said.

“On that form, I’d say he looks like he will make a hun­dred next week, too! The only thing that could af­fect him would be nerves on the day.”

On that point, Markram has al­ready shown his tem­per­a­ment. At Un­der-19 level he led South Africa to a World Cup ti­tle, lead­ing from the front with the bat. Last term, his pu­n­ish­ing cen­tury put the Ti­tans out of touch in the Mo­men­tum One-Day Cup fi­nal against the War­riors.

Tellingly, he tends to go big when he bats, a hunger per­haps height­ened by be­ing over­looked dur­ing his de­vel­op­ment years. De­spite scor­ing big runs at Pre­to­ria Boys High, the only pro­vin­cial team he made was the North­erns Un­der-13 side.

That reg­u­lar re­jec­tion has been enough for lesser play­ers to pack their bags as they headed for the pound and the com­fort of county cricket. But to his sig­nif­i­cant credit, Markram’s pri­or­ity has al­ways been South African colours.

Even when he had to wait for a gap in the Ti­tans set-up, his de­ter­mi­na­tion to ful­fil the dream didn’t wa­ver.

On Oc­to­ber 4, Markram turns 23. His gift this year has come a lit­tle early, with a pre­cious call from Zondi con­firm­ing his pa­tience in his de­vel­op­ment years, and the avalanche of runs this past year had fi­nally reaped the ul­ti­mate fruit.

He has al­ready been in the squad and even made it onto the field at Lord’s. This week, in Potchef­stroom, he will get the chance to walk out to the mid­dle with his par­ents in the stands and his crick­et­ing dreams be­fore his very eyes.

When he set­tles over his first ball in in­ter­na­tional cricket, only he and his con­sid­er­able blade can fill the ex­pec­tant si­lence with the sweet sound of cricket mu­sic.

It’s a lot of pres­sure, but his shoul­ders have al­ready shown a rel­ish for the bur­den that comes at the high­est level.

Many say he could re­ally be the fu­ture. All we know is that he is the present, and on the ba­sis of that bomb­shell, we wait in ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion.

BACKPAGEPIX

MA­JOR TAL­ENT: New Ti­tans cap­tain Ai­den Markram, who is set to make his Test de­but for the Pro­teas against Bangladesh this week, is seen as the fu­ture of SA cricket.

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