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Ken Borland

Markram finds his island of calm with Tukkies

Posted on April 17, 2014 by Ken

Aiden Markram has been crying out for an island of calm amidst all the hurly-burly and media attention of leading the South Africa U19 team to their Junior World Cup title last month in Dubai. And he seems to have found it judging by the assured, unbeaten half-century he scored to carry Assupol Tukkies to victory in the opening game of the Red Bull Campus Cricket finals against Steinhoff Maties on Tuesday.

The man of the match scored 50 not out off 45 balls as the University of Pretoria cruised to their moderate target of 119 with all of 11 deliveries remaining. Markram had the measure of the Stellenbosch University bowlers from the outset, hitting three fours in the first over of the innings, bowled by Boland cricketer Riyaad Henry.

But with the hardness of the new ball rapidly disappearing, he was content to just pick up mostly ones and twos on a slow autumnal pitch at the L.C. de Villiers Oval.

It was obvious that the powerful, tall right-hander is a young batsman who has learnt to play in different conditions, the pitches in the United Arab Emirates, where he was the Player of the Series with 370 runs at an astonishing average of 123, being similar to those in Pretoria at this time of year.

“The pitch was quite slow and it was hard to hit through the lines, you had to put the massive drives away,” Markram said after his impressive innings.

Markram was one of the hottest properties in South African cricket after the ICC U19 World Cup triumph, but he was content to stay in northern Gauteng, where he was born and where he schooled at Pretoria Boys’ High.

He believes that Tukkies, the national club champions and winners of the Northerns league for the last five years, will raise the bar when it comes to developing his game.

“I’m very happy here, the training is awesome, at very high intensity, and this is where my game will improve,” Markram says.

All the media attention and official engagements after their triumph in Dubai didn’t leave Markram with much leeway when it came to time to practise. SA U19 coach Ray Jennings likes to police his charges closely, but now Markram is no longer under his watch.

Fortunately, the Tukkies coach, Pierre de Bruyn, is a protégé of Jennings’ and the national junior coach has said before how confident he is that Markram’s game will develop even more at the University of Pretoria.

“I’m tired and the body’s a bit stiff, but I’m doing what I love and it’s never a mission to wake up in the morning and go and play cricket. It’s been hectic and for two weeks after the Junior World Cup I really struggled with the bat. But I’ve remembered not to complicate it and I’m happy with the start in this competition.

“We have nothing to complain about because one of our team-mates, Regardt Verster, is fighting for his life in hospital after a car crash and we’re doing this for him,” Markram said.


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