Nine years ago, Aiden Markram was involved in the historic U-19 World Cup win for South Africa. He was ‘destined’ to be the next big thing in South Africa. Unfortunately, seldom does destiny and reality go hand-in-hand, and Markram learnt it first hand during the 2018 ODI series against India. Captaincy was his cup of tea but to get to that stage, he had to earn the badge.
Over the last year, Markram has made immense stride in that aspect, leading the Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the title in the inaugural edition of the SA20. On the back of that success, the right-hander was rightfully named as the new skipper of the Proteas team.
"I was quite fresh back at that young age, I was quite hard on myself," Markram said at the press conference before the start of the West Indies T20Is. "I always wanted to do well and we know that in sport, it doesn't always work out that way."
"Everyone just wanted to play and you just had to make sure the team was getting on and guys understood their roles and that was pretty much as simple as it was," he added.
Interestingly, Markram has learnt a lot from just observing one of South Africa’s finest captains – Faf du Plessis – when the latter was in the charge of the national team.
"How Faf managed to marshal his troops was something I really looked up to and something I strive to become. I've learnt a lot from him - probably without him knowing - just observing from the side," Markram said.
"The years of being in this environment has helped. We've had some great leaders around, so to sponge information off them and see how they operate has also shaped the way I am starting to think as well."
But now Markram is on his own, and up against Markram’s men are West Indies, a side that is well-known for their T20I exploits. Even though they were undone in the group stage, the legacy that they hold in the shortest format is quite revered.
"West Indies are a great team to be able to test our skills against, see where we are with regards to our T20 side," Markram said.
This South African unit have set quite a high standard in the shortest format, so as a skipper Markram’s first job would be to keep that spirit high in the dressing room.
"We are almost seeing it as them setting the standard, and it's something for us to chase. They've inspired us to try and get there as well."
"You have to learn to take things in your stride," Markram said. "You have to try to take performances and outcomes out of things and focus on the things that give you the best chance to succeed on the day, whether it works or not. Those things have helped me so far."