Aiden Markram. (Photo by SA20/Sportzpics/Gallo Images)
- The poignancy and magnitude of Aiden Markram’s maiden ton in T20 cricket was exemplified by his father being in tears when he reached the milestone.
- The Sunrisers skipper expressed gratitude for his family being able to witness firsthand an innings that could prove a turning point in the Proteas batter’s career.
- Markram readily admitted that he surprised himself with the power game he displayed to score a century coming in at No 4 in the batting order.
While Aiden Markram was visibly emotional after galloping to a maiden hundred in his T20 career – crouching down, punching the air, and swinging his bat almost disdainfully – his gestures couldn’t quite beat the poignancy of his father Kyle’s reaction.
While SuperSport Park erupted – Markram is a Titans stalwart, after all – as the Sunrisers Eastern Cape skipper reached his milestone on Thursday night, and his teammate, Tristan Stubbs, let out a peculiar squeal in delight, Markram senior was calmly looking on with tears rolling down his cheeks.
Like any dedicated father, Kyle has in all likelihood watched his son battle hardship over the last two years as detractors steadfastly pointed out his inconsistency at the highest level.
It’s little wonder then the spectacular 58-ball effort, which neatly showcased every strength of Markram’s game and guided Sunrisers to Saturday’s SA20 final against Pretoria Capitals at the Wanderers, was so overwhelmingly satisfying.
To add to that achievement, Markram readily admitted he never thought he possessed the power game to reach a 20-over ton batting at No 4 – those pyrotechnics, he believed, were reserved for the AB de Villiers’ of the world.
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“It was special. I never really thought I had the game to walk in at No 4 and get a hundred like other guys in the world have. It was a nice moment,” he said on Friday.
“I was really grateful that my family was there to experience it first-hand and not on the TV. My dad’s a big, strong guy, but he’s got a soft, little heart and that’s probably why there were a bit of waterworks on his side.
“It’s great to make them proud, it’s memories you’ve created for them and not just yourself. It’s cool.”
Unlike the case with many such notable cricketing achievements in the short format, Markram didn’t pull any rabbits out of a hat during his innings, even if his eventual six maximums suggested some significant fireworks involved somewhere.
“I just tried to keep it simple: see ball, hit ball. Because we had a good wicket, it helped a lot too. There were a combination of things that probably came together and let things work out,” he said.
“The ball really just got onto the bat nicely once you had a grip of the conditions. You suddenly feel quite a bit more confident.”
Much has been made of the 28-year-old’s return to full-time captaincy in the tournament.
Markram memorably lead the national Under-19 team to World Cup glory back in 2014, but there was a view that the Proteas captaincy during a six-match home ODI series against India in 2018 – the hosts lost 1-5 – was tantamount to being thrown to the wolves, and that it affected his overall growth in the game.
However, the SA20 has seemingly brought with it a new dimension to his overall game, though the man himself insisted that the responsibility of being skipper at the Sunrisers franchise hasn’t affected his batting.
“It’s been a while. I can’t actually pinpoint when last [I captained full-time], but you definitely feel a bit of extra responsibility. That definitely helps to be honest. You don’t want it to paralyse you though, you still want to play with some freedom, especially in this format,” said Markram.
“That extra responsibility and trying to find ways to win is something that’s always a good challenge. We all want to win and be in finals and for me to have some form of a leadership role in this journey is quite cool.
“It didn’t really change my game all that much, but the desperation to perform, to reach the pinnacle of a title win is heightened.”
The first ball in Saturday’s final at the Wanderers will be bowled at 16:30.