Johannesburg – Under-19 World Cup cricket captain Aiden Markram may not have received all the accolades he deserved when his side lifted the trophy in February but he has refused to stay out of the limelight.
His name was slightly overshadowed when the South African team won their first World Cup, by the more glamorous and eye-catching exploits of fast-bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Corbin Bosch.
But Markram, player that he is, last week helped Tukkies to their third consecutive National Club Championship title in Pretoria.
He scored heavily in their match to win the final against Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's Madibaz on Monday.
Markram’s most eye-catching exploits, however, happened on the way to the final, when he hammered his way to a big double hundred in only 153 balls against United CC from Border, a knock he enjoyed immensely.
“I had a little luck because I was given a life on 58. It was quite a difficult chance down on the boundary after I’d pulled one to the ropes,” he said.
“But coach Pierre de Bruyn said to me before the match that he wanted me to kick on after establishing early momentum so I was very happy with my innings and over the moon at our performance in the tournament as a whole.”
Life was not always as straightforward for the cricketer. Markram, like SA under-19 team-mate Bosch, was a matriculant at Pretoria Boys’ High in 2012. Miraculously, given what has come to pass, he was not chosen for the Northerns under-19 side in the Coca-Cola week that year, although in retrospect he said he only had himself to blame.
“I didn’t really perform that well in the trials – it was really my fault – I could have done a lot better. “
Clearly he was not doing everything wrong because shortly after leaving school in December 2012, when others were off to the Coke Week, he received a call from then SA under-19 coach Ray Jennings.
Jet, as he is known, counselled calm and patience and, earlier the following year, Markram enrolled at the Tukkies Cricket Academy under De Bruyn.
Looking back, it was the best decision he made, and it helped his cricket immeasurably.
“We trained as professionals and it was a good environment – it was a very good decision,” he said.
In July last year, Markram – who had now been on Jennings’ radar for a good six months – was called up to a national under-19 camp.
He went with the under-19s to India and played in a triangular tournament against the hosts and Australia. In a sense, he has not looked back, with the world under-19 title earlier in 2014 being the cherry on top of a miraculous and many-layered cake.
For the moment, though, he needs to concentrate on his studies. After spending all of last year at the cricket academy, he needs to catch up and he has missed time in studying for his BCom degree in Sport Management.
Unsurprisingly though, there is cricket once again on the horizon.
Tukkies were victorious over Maties in a local T20 intervarsity tournament recently and capturing the local title means they will represent South Africa in an annual Universities Challenge in England in July. The final and semi-finals are being played at the Oval, so his kit will not be gathering dust for long.
Markram, who could be seen as a slightly late starter, has more than made up lost ground in the last year and, if he continues to progress at his current rate, a rookie contract at Northerns surely cannot be too far away. – Sapa