Aiden Markram named South Africa A skipper for series against India A
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Aiden Markram, who led the South African Under-19 team to World Cup success in 2014, will lead the Proteas A side in the two-match unofficial Test series against India A, which will begin on August 12.
Markram was called to the senior Test side as cover for skipper Faf du Plessis, who missed the first Test of the ongoing four-match Test series against England due to the birth of his first child, and has since remained in England with Cricket South Africa wanting to give Markram an experience of what the senior team setup looked like.
"This is a very important series after the disappointing Test match against the England Lions earlier this year. This is a golden opportunity for the players to show what they can do under conditions they know well against a testing opposition," CSA selection convener Linda Zondi said on Saturday after naming the 15-man squad.
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Markram is highly regarded in South African circles with the 22-year-old earmarked as a future international prospect since a very young age, especially as a leader.
South Africa A had a disappointing outing against the England Lions in their last away tour, losing both the ODI and Test legs, but CSA has opted to persist with Markram as skipper for the four-day games against India A having missed the ongoing ODI tri-series involving India A and Afghanistan A.
Markram, who was named as Domestic Newcomer of the Year at Cricket South Africa's Annual Awards in May 2017, had led the Proteas Under-19 side to victory at the 2014 U-19 ICC World Cup, with a victory over Pakistan in the final by six wickets.
Markram was the star for South Africa during the tournament and was deservedly named the Man of the Series with 370 runs at an average of above 123.
The fact that Cricket South Africa opted not to release him for the Triangular series even when du Plessis made his way back, proves how highly he is rated in his homeland and they will be hoping that the 22-year-old can continue his good run of form in 2017.
Along with Markram, two other senior team members, Andile Phehlukwayo and fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who featured in the second and the fourth Test against England, have also been named in the squad for the two four-day games.
South Africa A squad: Aiden Markram (captain), Stephen Cook, Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dane Piedt, Omphile Ramela, Rudi Second, Jason Smith, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo.
India A squad: Karun Nair (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), PK Panchal, Abhinav Mukund, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Sudip Chatterjee, Hanuma Vihari, Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Aniket Choudhary, Ankit Rajpoot.
The first four-day match, starting from August 12, will be played at the Willowmoore Park in Benoni and the second, from August 19, at Groenkloof Stadium, Pretoria.
It is no secret that Cricket South Africa rate Markram highly both as a batsman and as skipper and they will be hoping to fast-track his rise to the senior setup given their struggles in the ongoing Test series against England.
With AB de Villiers' Test future subject to much speculation along with JP Duminy's recent struggles, the South African batting department is badly in need of reinforcements and Markram could well be the player to bring in the quality required.