Aiden Markram captained the South Africa-A side on its tour to India this year and scored a stroke-filled knock of 161 during the second, unofficial Test in Mysore.
Just before the ongoing Test series against India began, he smacked another ton in the practice game in Vizianagaram against a Board President’s XI. Markram reached three figures off just 118 deliveries and retired hurt to give the rest of the batting some practice.
In the same game, Rohit Sharma was auditioning for the opening spot for India in the Test arena and was dismissed for a duck off two deliveries.
How the roles have reversed.
Markram is highly rated in South Africa and has shown promise in his fledgling career, with an average of 40.05 after 19 games. However, his record in Asia is extremely poor as he has scored a mere 94 runs in his eight innings, at an average of 11.75. His score of 39 in Visakhapatnam in the second innings of the first Test against India is his highest in the subcontinent.
The 25-year-old could have possibly avoided a pair in the second Test in Pune had he opted to review in the second innings after he was adjudged LBW in the opening over.
He was dismissed in the first innings in identical fashion, missing an inswinger from Umesh Yadav and that could have influenced the opening pair’s decision to not review in the second innings, when Ishant Sharma struck Markram’s pads with a similar delivery. Replays suggested that the ball would have missed the stumps.
Nevertheless, Markram became only the third South African opener to bag a duck in each innings after Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten. Gibbs has suffered the ignominy twice, both occasions coming against the West Indies.
South Africa’s opening pair of Markram and Dean Elgar have managed only one 50-run first wicket partnership in 2019 and their last 11 opening partnerships in Tests make for horrific reading: 4, 6, 24, 0, 36, 15, 10, 14, 4, 2, 0.
The 25-year-old, who was the captain of the U-19 South African team when they won the World Cup in 2014, is certainly talented. Among Test openers, only Dimuth Karunaratne has scored more runs (1,546) than Markram (1,402) since the South African made his debut.
However, most of those runs have come at home and in order to fulfill his promise, Markram needs to prove his mettle on tours as well. Ranchi presents one more chance for the opener to redeem himself when South Africa take on India in the third and final Test of the series.
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Three months after the 2019 World Cup final was decided by boundary count, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has made changes to the Super Over rule for all its major events.
At the end of a tied super over in the final at Lord’s, England were declared winners on the basis of scoring more boundaries (fours and sixes) in its allotted 50 overs and the Super Over combined, much to the ire of the New Zealand fans.
Following that thrilling yet controversial final, the ICC has finally made changes to the rule and in case a situation arises where both teams are tied even after the Super Over in a final or semi-final, the Super Over will be repeated until there is a clear winner.
This rule was recently implemented in domestic T20 leagues like the Caribbean Premier League and now the ICC is following suit.
“Following on from a recommendation from the ICC Cricket Committee, the Chief Executives’ Committee agreed that use of the Super Over as a way to decide results at ICC events will be retained. Both the Cricket Committee and CEC agreed it was an exciting and engaging conclusion to the game and will remain in place covering all games at both ODI and T20I World Cups,” the ICC said after its board meeting.
“In group stages, if the Super Over is tied, the match will be tied. In semifinals and finals, there is one change to the Super Over regulation in keeping with the basic principle of scoring more runs than the opponent to win, the Super Over will be repeated until one team has more runs than the other.”
The board also decided that the eight-year cycle commencing in 2023 will comprise eight men’s events, eight women’s events, four men’s U19 events and four women’s U19 events.
“In examining a whole range of options, the Board felt a major men’s and women’s event each year will bring consistency to our calendar whilst complementing bilateral cricket, giving our sport a strong future foundation,” said ICC chairman Shashank Manohar.
“It will provide clear structure and context to enable the growth of the sport and greater engagement opportunities for all of our stakeholders. The move towards a bidding model will give equal opportunities to all members to host ICC events post 2023.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe has called on fans to remain patient after the Proteas conceded the three-match series against India by tasting a mammoth defeat in the second Test in Pune.
South Africa have been in transition after the likes of Morne Morkel, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla retired from international cricket over the past year, with the side now falling to three defeats in their last four Test series.
“It was always going to be a difficult challenge taking on the top team in the world – certainly under their own conditions – in India at a time when we have introduced a new team structure,” Moroe said in a press statement released on Monday.
“In the past two years we have had to bid farewell to some of the great names of international cricket such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn who between them played nearly 450 Test matches for the Proteas.
“You don’t replace that kind of experience overnight and we need to give a new generation time to settle.”
Their bowling has been poor while their batting has been highly inconsistent so far in the ongoing series against India. In the first Test at Visakhapatnam, experienced players such as Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar scored tons while skipper Faf du Plessis contributed with a half-century.
However, beyond these three top-order batsmen, the rest failed to apply themselves and make a meaningful contribution. Temba Bavuma has scored 64 runs in four innings, Theunis de Bruyn has managed 52 runs while opener Aiden Markram has only mustered 44 runs after bagging a pair in Pune.
Their bowlers have toiled hard but haven’t managed to make a dent in the strong Indian batting order. However, Moroe believes the team will come good soon and with quite a few young players in the domestic circuit ready to make the step up.
“These things take time and I am confident that we will already see improvement in our next Test series when England are our visitors during the festive season,” Moroe said.
“I am sure that our supporters will rally behind them on home turf. These are, in fact, exciting times for South African cricket with new names and faces coming to the fore. Our talent pipeline has produced the likes of Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Zubayr Hamza over the last few years and our development systems are clearly in good shape.
“There is a huge incentive on our young players to put pressure on the incumbents. There is nothing like good competition for places that brings out the best in all.”
CSA’s acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl, complimented the quality of Virat Kohli’s team and also expressed his belief in the inexperienced yet talented South African players.
“We need to appreciate the quality that is in this Indian side. This is an Indian team that has been together for some time now and is well accustomed to playing in their home conditions,” van Zyl said.
“I strongly believe we, as the Proteas, have the players to win games and the youngsters will come right. The team are constantly trying to find ways to win. It’s not like they’re not doing a great job with it. We believe in them that they’re going to make the right decisions to do the best they can do to help us win Test matches.”
The visitors go into the third and final Test at Ranchi beginning on Saturday with the hopes of averting a 0-3 whitewash at the hands of India.