Aiden Markram did not take long to justify the hype surrounding his Test debut, but while it turned out to be a memorable one, South Africa’s latest Test player will be disappointed not to end it on a good note personally.
The right-handed batsman fell just three runs short of scoring a century on his international debut but the way he described his pre-match nervousness, one can say that he would take the 97 runs on the first day of the series-opener against Bangladesh.
Speaking at the post-day press conference, Markram admitted he was ‘extremely nervous’ as well as emotional just before he was about to accompany Dean Elgar to open the innings.
“I was extremely nervous, especially after the anthems,” he admitted. “A touch emotional. All those factors kick in. But that first boundary calms you down, and that’s all it took for me today. Had you asked me if I would take 97 last night I would have taken it with open arms.”
Seen as the next big thing in South Africa cricket, Markram entered the Test under immense pressure. He has been earmarked to end South Africa’s wait for a reliable opener after the experiments with Heino Kuhn, and Stephen Cook failed.
The 22-year-old, who captained South Africa to victory in the Under-19 World Cup in 2014, shot to prominence with his scintillating performance in the last domestic season. He was the third-highest run-getter in the Momentum One-Day Cup, scoring 508 runs in nine innings with two centuries, including the one in the final. He also had an impressive outing in the Sunfoil Series first-class competition where he compiled two centuries and two fifties to amass 565 runs at an average of 51.36.
Speaking about the pressure, he said:
“It’s not always a nice pressure to try and deal with because you don’t want to let anyone down. I genuinely just try to block it out because at the end of the day it’s a needless pressure that you are going to have on your shoulders. It’s there, and we are aware of it as players, but I do try to keep it out and keep it to the side.”
Markram was looking destined for a fairy-tale debut before a misunderstanding with Dean Elgar led to his run-out on 97. However, the youngster did not regret the dismissal and was more than happy to sacrifice his wicket in an attempt which would have brought his partner’s hundred.
“I have never really looked at the game from a selfish perspective. I think I wanted it so badly for him I caught myself in no man’s land,” he said. “But it’s part of the game, I’ve just got to take it on the chin and move forward.
“He was extremely upset. Dean and I have come a long way and developed a good relationship. It was tough for him and a bitter pill to swallow. But I told him at tea that he really needs to kick on, and that’s all that matters,” he added.
He further lavished praise on Elgar who remained unbeaten on 128, as South Africa ended the day on a commanding 298 for one.
“It’s never easy to bat out a full day. That’s your goal as an opening batsman – very rarely do I set myself a goal of how many runs I’m going to get, it’s more of a time goal. Generally the longer you bat, the easier it gets. You’ve got to take your hat off to the innings Dean played,” he said.