JOHANNESBURG – Aiden Markram has played just two innings in this season’s Momentum One-Day Cup and is already that competition’s leading run-scorer (308).
He also has the highest average (154), is the only player to have scored two centuries and he has the highest individual score this season (169).
In addition, he was part of the highest first-wicket partnership (234) so far – with Tony de Zorzi on Sunday at St George’s Park – and a world record sixth-wicket partnership (272) with Farhaan Behardien at Newlands last Friday.
In terms of making a case for himself for the national One-Day team, Markram is doing his very best Alan Shore (James Spader’s character from TV drama Boston Legal).
It’s all very hard to ignore, and twice at the weekend – both before and then after Sunday’s first One-Day International – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis was asked about Markram’s feats.
On Saturday, Du Plessis made special mention of the fact that Markram’s 169 against the Cobras came with him batting at No 5, explaining it showed his versatility.
That is something both Du Plessis and Ottis Gibson are keen on, given the role they feel Markram would play should he be selected for the World Cup – where he may be called upon to fill positions in the top- and middle-order.
By Sunday, Du Plessis was working hard to point out that Markram is in competition with a lot of other in-form players.
“He is by no means out of our plans,” Du Plessis said after leading South Africa to a thumping eight-wicket win in the first ODI at the Wanderers.
“If you look at the top five that’s here right now, it’s the five guys who have consistently been the biggest scorers over the last season – Aiden has had some really good opportunities in One-Day cricket.
“We know he is a better player than his figures over the 16 matches he’s played would say.”
Indeed, Markram averages 25.43, and has scored just one half-century.
But those numbers need to be aligned to the fact that he has played in different positions in the order – something he wasn’t accustomed to at domestic level when he first broke into the Proteas ODI side.
And he captained in five of those matches against an Indian team that are regarded as favourites for the World Cup, and did so with a host senior players, including Du Plessis, absent at various stages in that series.
“It’s not so easy to say someone is doing really well, so therefore he must come into the team,” said Du Plessis.
“He has to come in, in someone’s place, and if you look at Reeza (Hendricks) and Rassie (van der Dussen), they’ve had fantastic seasons in all formats – they’ve been very consistent and deserve their chances to play.”
Du Plessis then outlined how JP Duminy, just returned after four months out following shoulder surgery, would slot in at No 6, meaning Markram was effectively playing for one spot – as the back-up batsman in the World Cup squad.
MILESTONE: He's only gone and done it again! #MarkramMasterpiece 🙌— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) March 3, 2019
The Sky Blues' opener records back to back tons, this one coming off 97 balls, including 11 fours and 1 six. #WhatMakesUsTitans
Titans 193-0 after 31 overs. #WARvTTN #MODC pic.twitter.com/aurhblNZiP
“But there are a lot of good players competing for that one position.
“All Aiden must do is keep scoring runs, bash that door down and hopefully there will be an opportunity for him in the last two games of this series. And then (he needs) to step up and run with that form, and, Bob’s your uncle,” Du Plessis added.
The Titans’ next match is on Friday in Benoni against the Warriors.
South Africa play the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Durban on Sunday, and thereafter may make changes to the squad for the remainder of the series. Will Markram be one of them?@shockerhess