Sport24 chief writer
- Markram has just moved above Jacques Kallis into the top 10 list for South African run-scorers in T20 internationals.
- Both his average and strike rate presently stand up glowingly against the most prolific T20I stroke-players in global history.
- He needs one more fifty in his next innings (possibly Friday) to swiftly emulate colleague Reeza Hendricks for four in a row.
It would be ill-advised to talk of “cold statistics” ... because Aiden Markram’s are, simply, too hot.
While the talent-blessed, muscular stroke-player has had his well-documented delivery problems at various times in both the Test and one-day international environments, his lustre in the Twenty20 format has been virtually never-ending.
Not to mention palpably mounting, certainly when you scrutinise the incontrovertible numbers.
Much of the limelight in the Proteas’ camp of late has been rightly stolen by Reeza Hendricks, the previously under-scrutiny opener who has reinvented himself with extraordinary prowess.
But while Hendricks on Wednesday became the hitherto unlikely first South African - and only third frontline-nation figure alongside Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum - to post four consecutive T20I half-centuries, Markram duly ascended to a proud landmark of his own.
In scoring a typically bruising, cleanly-struck 56 at a strike rate of 207 against Ireland at Bristol on Wednesday, the right-handed now fixture in the No 4 berth became the first Proteas player to twice register three fifties on the trot in the landscape.
The feat took him above the three to have managed that trick once: the obvious Hendricks, plus Hashim Amla and another current team-mate in Quinton de Kock.
Markram, who will turn 28 just before late October’s T20 World Cup in Australia, first did it in only his third, fourth and fifth appearances in T20 internationals: all against Pakistan on highveld turf (Centurion or Wanderers) in April 2021.
The latest three-strong volley came against England (at Sharjah, late last year, then Southampton much more recently), plus against Ireland this week.
It would be astonishing if Markram could so swiftly expand the “Hendricks, Gayle and McCullum” club by making it four in succession on Friday - though that is on the assumption he plays in the final clash with the Irish, again 19:30 SA time.
Whether he does or not, he has been a beacon of purring consistency in T20 internationals.
Markram has advanced to 695 runs from 20 turns at the T20I crease at an average of 43.43. His strike rate, into the bargain, has now ticked over to just above the really bombing 150-mark (150.10).
All of those figures, frankly, make it look a little unfortunate now that he only made his T20I debut (2019) aged around 24 and a half, whereas he started in Tests at 22 (in 2017).
As he lashed the Irish attack at Gloucestershire’s postage-stamp-sized Bristol headquarters on Wednesday, Markram shifted past a certain Jacques Kallis, no less, in the pecking order of weightiest run-scorers in T20I history for the country.
Kallis, who also got into the format relatively late as it didn’t exist for lengthy tracts of his glittering top-flight career, had been 10th on the list with 666 at 35.05 and a strike rate of 119; he played 23 knocks.
Although the shortest form of the game was never going to be the great all-rounder’s forte, it is still worth noting that Markram currently beats him statistically in all the departments listed, when it comes to T20I batting specifically.
Now having nosed his way into the top 10 at Kallis’s expense, Markram has a way to go to rise to the top, where JP Duminy (from a way more generous 81 caps, remember) still leads the way with 1,934 runs.
Of all nine celebrated players above him for pure volume of runs, Markram eclipses them all for both average (nearest is Duminy, 38.68) and strike rate (nearest David Miller, 142.49).
It tells you much you need to know about his booming value to the Proteas’ cause in the T20 arena, where he even chips in highly competent “bowler six” off-spin - like Duminy did - for good measure.
On a broader global basis, Markram stands up extremely well in certain statistical respects to, for example, the top 10 run-getters in T20I history - a list headed by India’s Rohit Sharma (3,454).
Although he remains light years behind for actual weight of runs, Markram’s present average is only bettered among that elite batch by Rohit’s Indian compatriot Virat Kohli (50.12) and Pakistani Babar Azam (45.52).
As for strike rate, Markram comes in higher than all of the top 10, where the closest to him in that category is Aaron Finch of Australia (145.29).
Right now, his heads-turning trajectory isn’t flattening out, either ...
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing