Earmarked as the next big thing in South African cricket, Aiden Markram has already made an impact in Test cricket. Having made his Test debut less than a year ago, Markram earlier this year became the fastest South African to 1000 Test runs having achieved the milestone in his tenth Test match. But all those ten Tests were at home and the 23-year-old is determined to make his impact overseas as well.
The South African cricket team conducted a training session in Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium on Thursday (July 5) and will play a two-day warm-up game at P. Sara Oval starting Saturday before travelling to Galle on Monday where the first Test against Sri Lanka gets underway on July 12.
“Obviously it’s going to be very different. Any sub-continent condition is going to be very difficult challenge to South Africa. I am looking forward to it. It’s been winter back in home. We have been trying to stimulate playing in conditions here as the ball stays a bit lower,” Markram told journalists after his team’s training session.
Markram, the only South African skipper to win a World Cup – the ICC Under-19 World Cup title in 2014, has already captained the senior side in ODIs. Before he takes on bigger challenges, he is keen and focused on cementing his place in the side by succeeding overseas. “It is really important for me to do well here. As an opening batsman, if you get a good start, you are helping your team to end up in a good position. I am excited to do well, but I am not going to put any additional pressure on me because it is outside South Africa. I don’t want to be labelled as the guy who only does well in home conditions,” he said.
The opening batsman had a brief stint with English county Durham before returning home to prepare for the Sri Lankan tour. “Generally back at home during winter wickets tend to keep a lot lower than in summer. Obviously, that helped a bit. Batted in different creases and worn out tracks and tried to get some spin. We tried to make things as much realistic as possible to stimulate conditions here,” he revealed.
The Sri Lankans will bank heavily on 40-year-old veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and Markram acknowledged it’ll be crucial for his team to overcome that challenge if they are to succeed. “We have no idea what to expect and what the conditions are going to be. But he is a quality bowler. One of the best spinners in the world and it’s going to be a great challenge and hopefully I will take something out of this series.”
In the absence of AB de Villiers, who announced his international retirement in May, the Proteas will look to veteran Hashim Amla for inspiration. “Hashim is great value in the camp. Lot of experience and his calm nature rubs off a lot of players. Whenever he speaks it adds value to us. He has experienced these conditions before and he has experienced quite a bit of sub-continent conditions. He has been sharing a lot of knowledge with us. Sort of the position I am in, quite young and quite new, you try to get a lot out of him,” Markram noted.