Aiden Markram was handed South Africa captaincy too soon: Graeme Smith

Aiden Markram handed South Africa captaincy too soon: Graeme Smith
Image Credit - Free Press Journal

In a ODI career that is merely 7-matches old, Aiden Markram has seen a lot. Owing to regular captain Faf du Plessis‘ injury in the series opener against India, the 23-year-old Markram was entrusted with the responsibility of leading his nation in the remaining five matches against a rampaging Indian side, led by the ruthless skill and determination of Virat Kohli.

South Africa faltered under Aiden Markram

The Proteas went on to suffer a humiliating 5-1 loss in the series, their first at home against India. As a result, plenty of questions have been raised of the South African selectors’ decision of handing over the reigns to Markram, a player who had only featured in two ODIs prior to the series against India.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith has also aired his views on the matter and believes that Aiden Markram’s appointment as interim captain for the Australia ODIs side against India was “not the right decision,” and hopes that his confidence hasn’t taken a dent after the home team was comprehensively beaten 5-1 by Virat Kohli-led India.

Graeme Smith is South Africa’s longest-serving captain

A fact in contention here is that Graeme Smith was himself appointed the Proteas captain at the young age of 22 after their first round exit from the 2003 World Cup at home. As is the case now, there were similar concerns back then but Graeme Smith’s appointment turned out to be a masterstroke in the long run as he ended up as South Africa’s longest-serving and the most successful captain ever.

Graeme Smith said that Aiden Markram has the talent and the leadership credentials to replicate his success but should be allowed enough time to “grow, develop and become a strong player.” Markram made 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24 in five innings as captain, and finished the series with 127 runs at an average of just over 21.

Markram should be given more time to mature, says Graeme Smith

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, Graeme Smith made it clear that the call to alleviate Aiden Markram into the leadership role for South Africa so early in his career wasn’t the right call, and could have easily been avoided and resisted.

“Everyone has been talking about his leadership. 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. South Africa need players to step up and perform,” he said.

The former captain also spelled out the alternative names that could have been asked to take up the job on a short-term basis in the absence of regular skipper du Plessis. “I think in the short term, with AB coming in after three games he could have stepped in, and they could have looked at Duminy or Amla in the first couple and allowed someone like Markram just to settle.”

Commenting on Markram’s leadership credentials and batting ability, Smith said that he was pretty optimistic of the young opener’s chances of succeeding at the top level and has been impressed by how he has conducted and carried himself in a short career so far.

“His performances since the start of his career say that he can bat at this level. He’s obviously got the leadership credentials from Under-19, he’s spoken highly as a personality and as a person mature for his age. But I just think allowing him to grow and develop and become a strong player within the line-up, we are talking about the next-tier of cricketers. There’s a drop-off between maybe four or five senior players and the next tier. So, allow those guys to develop.”

“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,” Graeme Smith concluded.

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