Aiden Markram should have established himself before accepting captaincy, says Graeme Smith
What's the story?
Former captain Graeme Smith has expressed his disappointment with the team management for choosing Aiden Markram to lead South Africa in five matches of the just-concluded six-match ODI series against India. "I don't think it was the right decision," Smith told ESPNcricinfo in Johannesburg. "One, he was batting out of position at No. 4 at the start of the series, something he had to come to terms with, and then you've piled him under pressure not only on his own game but also as a captain.”
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Regular captain Faf du Plessis had been ruled out of the ODI series against India as he fractured his finger during the first match at Durban.
Moreover, senior batsman AB de Villiers and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock were also absent due to a finger and a wrist injury, respectively. Hence, South Africa chose the 23-year-old Markram as the stand-in captain for the remaining five matches.
The heart of the matter
As captain, Markram registered scores of 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24 in five innings. Thus, Smith, who is one of the most successful captains in international cricket, felt that captaincy had put an extra burden on the young shoulders of Markram, who was not even a permanent member of the ODI side.
“Probably coming from me that doesn't make sense because I got given the job at a very young age. I think it was an interim thing, not a full-time thing. I would have rather have had him find his place, find his feet within the one-day set-up, try and get runs behind him,” the 37-year-old said.
"What was disappointing for me was that I don't think the other senior players stepped up around him - the Amlas, Duminys, Millers, those guys just never got it going from a performance perspective, an intensity perspective. They needed to get behind and lead the way almost."
It is debatable if the choice of Markram was appropriate or not, since an experienced campaigner like Hashim Amla has had a past full of reluctance to lead, while South Africa were also keen to stick to their “Vision 2019”, an idea to expose younger players to the international stage just a year ahead of the World Cup. Also, what may have tilted them to pick Markram may have been the fact that he had led South Africa to the Under-19 World Cup title in 2014.