South African starlet Aiden Markram has thrown his hat into the ring, to fill the void left by AB de Villiers at #4.
Markram, only 23, has had a successful initiation to international cricket, but only in the Test arena so far. Markram has scored 1000 runs in 10 Tests at an average of 55. The right-hander also top-scored in the home series against Australia this spring, which was later marred by the ball-tampering controversy involving Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. His classy stroke-making has earnt him a wide variety of fans, including India captain Virat Kohli.
Markram’s early games in ODI cricket was less than successful – he stepped in for de Villiers himself when the South African talisman was injured in the ODI series against India.
The Titans batsman continued in the side as de Villiers came back – and even captained the team for the latter half of the series, as regular captain Faf du Plessis missed out too, despite his inexperience. Markram only has 193 ODI runs in 7 innings, at an average of 27.57.
Despite his sluggish start in the format, the youngster remains confident as ever, making his intentions to challenge for the now vacant #4 spot clear.
“It’s a little bit foreign to me, having opened for most of my life, but there have been a few white ball games with the Titans and in the Indian series where I have batted at No 4,” he told Sport24.
“It’s a little bit different, but at the end of the day it’s the ball and the situation you’ve got to play. If I ever got given that opportunity I would take it with open arms.”
But Markram recognized that de Villiers was a once-in-a generation talent, and it would be impossible to find a like-for-like replacement.
“I don’t think it’s a case of trying to find the next AB de Villiers because we will never manage to find another player like that,” he said.
“It’s still quite important that whoever does fill that role makes it their own and plays their own game in that role,” he said.
He stressed on the importance of getting the team home, and also talked about other up and coming contenders for the #4 spot.
“Whether you get the job done like AB does or whoever … as long as the job gets done.
“It’s going to be an interesting selection headache, because there are a lot of good players coming through. You’ve got a guy like Heinrich Klaasen and a guy like Temba (Bavuma) who might come into the mix now. It’s going to be interesting,” he added.
Markram will have his task cut out with just a year to go for the 2019 World Cup to be held in England. South Africa, perennial underachievers in the world stage, will look to set the record straight, in the absence of de Villiers.