Markram ready to bat at No 4, but not to replace AB

Aiden Markram (Gallo)
Aiden Markram (Gallo)

Cape Town - Aiden Markram's Test statistics are almost too perfect to believe. 

After 10 matches in his debut season, the 23-year-old has scored exactly 1 000 runs at an average of 55.55.

"I couldn't have asked for it to go much better," he said at Saturday night's Cricket South Africa (CSA) awards ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. 

While the night belonged to Kagiso Rabada, Markram was named Newcomer of the Year.

READ: Rabada emerges as new face of SA cricket 

There was no other choice. 

Already, Markram has risen to No 9 in the Test batting rankings and he is showing no signs of slowing down. His partnership with Dean Elgar at the top of the Proteas order has quickly developed into one of the most natural, well-balanced opening pairings in world cricket. 

Markram's two big hundreds in South Africa's 3-1 victory over Australia earlier this year left him as the top run scorer in the series, and along the way he made it abundantly clear that he will be and intregral part of any success the Proteas have in the format in the years to come. 

It was a different story on the ODI stage, though, where Markram struggled to get going. 

The decision to toss him the captaincy for the last five ODIs against India was a contentious one, and while Markram says he learnt a lot from that experience, his batting seemed to suffer as a result. 

He averages just 27.57 from his 7 ODIs to date, but that will not even be of remote concern for anyone who has ever seen this man bat. 

He has power, timing and an expansive arsenal of shots that seem to have been copied and pasted directly from the coaching manual. 

Markram is as classy as they make them. 

With less than a year to go until the World Cup in England and Wales, South Africa's brains trust have limited time to get Markram into shape on the ODI stage. 

And with the recent bombshell announcement of AB de Villiers' retirement from international cricket, the Proteas need a No 4 at that tournament. 

With the explosive Quinton de Kock and the seasoned Hashim Amla South Africa's settled openers, Markram looks good for a No 4 berth at this stage. 

Speaking to Sport24 after the CSA awards, Markram said that he would be happy to fill the role if asked. 

"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 said.

"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."

It was not wise, Markram emphasised, to look for a like-for-like De Villiers option.

"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.

"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."

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