It is the summer of 2017, Bangladesh is in town for an energy-sapping five-match Test series in South Africa. Potchefstroom is ready to stage the first Test and commentators are already raving about the new star who will earn his maiden test cap for the Proteas. Even before Aiden Markram makes his debut, talks in the pubs, stadiums, and over dinners are that Markram is the future Test captain.
The talented batsman would eventually run three runs of a century in his debut for the senior team. The consensus from cricket commentators and pundits alike was that this is the right man to replace Faf Du Plessis. Fast-forward to today. Du Plessis stepped down from his reign as the Test captain earlier this year. The move has brought about one of the most contentious debates in the cricketing circles.
Who should replace him as a Test captain?
Graeme Smith, the man currently in charge of ushering a new era at Cricket South Africa, is tasked with appointing a new Test captain before the cricket season resumes once the COVID19 pandemic subsides allowing cricket and sport in general to resume. Smith admits that there are many players vying for the top job. However, many pundits have since reverted to their three-year-long comments that Markram is the right man to take over the reins.
The 25-year-old has all the ingredients to make him a great Test captain. Markram brings something that his reported competitors, Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar, and Rassie Van Der Dussen do not possess and that is the winning culture, mentality and charisma needed to be Proteas Test skipper.
The Centurion born batsman guided the Proteas Under-19 side to World Cup victory in 2014. This made him the first South African cricket captain to achieve such a feat. Markram’s leadership prowess cannot be doubted. He showed from a young age his ability to not only score the big runs but that he commands respect as a leader from his peers and senior players alike.
With the Proteas in a re-building phase, many young players will be making their way into the senior set-up. This will allow Markram an opportunity not only to lead his peers but those looking up to him. He captained South Africa A side on numerous occasions and led the Titans to a few domestic titles. Besides everything else, Markram as compared to Elgar, Van Der Dussen, or Bavuma, also has age on his side. Smith, who knows far too well the pressure of being a young Test captain, should trust Markram with this mountainous task and allow him to bring in new fresh ideas into the team.
Both Bavuma and Elgar have been with the Proteas’ sides that suffered mental blows for years and you do not need that kind of energy in building a new team following the retirement of many senior players. Markram’s presence, a great personality that resonates with the media, is a necessary requirement for a Test skipper and Smith should do the honourable thing and appoint him.