August 10, 2022
Ireland vs South Africa, 1st T20I, 2022


Aiden Markram won’t say it yet, but despite the hiatus of top-order batsmen in South Africa’s T20I squad, he is sure of his place for Australia in the World Cup. And you’d think he should be.

Markram is ranked third in the ICC’s T20I batting rankings, averaging 42.60 in T20Is, striking at 146.55 and contributing with part-time offspin. But he has played only one of South Africa’s eight T20Is this year, missed the series against India after contracting Covid-19 and was drawn for two of the three matches against England in favor of Heinrich Klaasen. Have become. So if he was feeling unsure, it would have made sense. Luckily for him, South Africa has a plan and he is almost certainly involved.

“The communication with the coach, the management team and the captain has been really good. It makes it easy to understand why they are doing this (rotating the players). You want to pick your best team to build the World Cup and It’s important to give people a fair deal before you select a team,” Markram said ahead of South Africa’s two-match T20I series against Ireland, which begins in Bristol on Wednesday.

Although South Africa did not have many matches to experiment with before the T20 World Cup (their two matches against Ireland and then three in India just before the tournament), they tinkered with the top order in the absence of captain Temba Bavuma. is of. He started the England series by giving Klaasen a chance at No. 4, but even though he is capable of hitting the ball hard, Klaasen has scored his runs against England with scores of 20 and 19. Markram replaced Klaasen for the third game and scored an unbeaten 51 in the decider.

Who will bat over Markram is not yet fully decided. Quinton de Kock would rise to prestige if not in current form, and Reeza Hendrix has done everything she can to open the batting with de Kock with three consecutive half-centuries against England. But if Bavuma is fit, it means either Hendricks has been dropped or has been moved down the order, with Riley Rossouw returning to the national set-up with an unbeaten 96 in the second match against England. If Rossouw goes down, it goes down on Markram and possibly further down where David Miller and Tristan Stubbs make up the middle order.

That’s a lot of problems that South Africa don’t yet know how to solve other than Markram, who could see an obvious role for himself in that mix.

“Riley, Tristan and Reeza are exciting for us as a team and create some great competition for us as a team. For me, it’s just about playing the situation. If not, then it’s about getting in and matching their intensity. And if not, it’s for me to step up the intensity,” he said.

The energy in the middle order is where the South African team has seen their biggest change from the team they were a year or two ago. Instead of relying on one player to finish an innings – Miller historically – they now have Markram, Stubbs, Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo, with Stubbs adding a new dynamic to the team. “It’s exciting for us to have a player with his X-factor ability,” Markram said. “He (Stubbs) is on cloud ninth now and it’s about being there and enjoying every moment. He’s a little independent and he always has a smile on his face.”

The hype around Stubbs may be reminiscent of the same hope that Markram brought with him after South Africa won the 2014 Under-19 World Cup and was promoted to senior international cricket three years later. Markram said he “didn’t quite work it out,” on how to manage those expectations, but his advice to Stubbs is that since “it’s been a fantastic six months for him, the more he pulls it out.” may, the more dreadful things will come for him.”

Markram has played similarly since the IPL, where he had a “decent bit, not amazing” tournament with three fifties in his 13 innings for Sunrisers Hyderabad. “Confidence is a big part of this game. This IPL tournament gave me that confidence, the confidence that I lacked [earlier]Markram said.

While Markram can be quite confident of himself in T20Is, he may not be quite as confident in other formats as “I can appreciate that I didn’t score as many runs as I should have.” Notably, his role as a Test player will intensify later this month, when South Africa take on England for three matches starting on August 17.

Markram has been included in the squad as the series against Bangladesh was not played due to the IPL and especially after a poor run. Earlier, Markram had played 13 Test innings with just one half-century and an average of 16.38. He has since been replaced by Searle Ervie as Dean Elgar’s opening partner, and he doesn’t think he will be able to find his way into the XI anytime soon. “I’m not even expecting to play honestly,” he said. “If you look at the makeup of the top three, they’ve done really well in the last few series. I’m over the moon for all three of them.”

Asked if he might consider moving down the order in the longest format, as he has done in the shorter formats, Markram said, “It is something I am ready for,” but South Africa Haven’t made any plans about it yet. “We haven’t had much discussion regarding red-ball cricket. It will be next week,” he said. He said, “I have worked only in the top order, but I am ready for it. If there is a role in the middle order and the coach and selectors think there is a place for me, then I am ready for it. And I have to prepare accordingly. And they make some mental adjustments.”

Wherever, or perhaps, he finds himself in the line-up, Markram remains committed to the longer and shorter formats, even as a growing number of players find themselves choosing between them. “I would still love to be involved in all three formats and do as much as I can to try to keep that dream of playing in all three formats alive.”

Firdous Munda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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