Aiden Markram is not sure whether or not his game has grown from his couple of weeks playing in the IPL in the UAE, but he does believe he has a better idea of the flexibility required in T20 cricket, which he says is going to be crucial for the Proteas in the forthcoming World Cup.
Markram joined the Punjab Kings for the completion of the IPL following the withdrawal of English star Dawid Malan, and, batting in the middle-order, made starts in every innings as he ended with 146 runs in six innings, averaging 29.20 with a strike-rate of 122.68.
When South Africa begin their T20 World Cup campaign on October 23 against Australia in Abu Dhabi, the middle-order is where Markram is most likely to find a place in the team.
“The pressure is always a lot more at a World Cup, the environment is all about pressure and you need to perform under it. The IPL is also high-pressured,” Markram said on Monday, “but I’m not sure if my game has grown or not.
“But it’s obviously a good standard of cricket and I was learning on the job, mingling with some seriously good players, chatting to legends of T20 cricket, but also trying to work things out in the middle during games.
‘Plans for the conditions’
“The important thing is that you have plans for the conditions before matches, the type of cricket you want to play, but if conditions don’t allow it then you have to have something else to fall back on.
“Trusting that back-up plan is important and we have certainly upskilled ourselves lately. I don’t think this team brings too much baggage from previous World Cups and we haven’t had too many chats about 2019.”
In terms of the conditions, the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi is in the desert but within sight of the dhows in the Persian Gulf, and arguably the best place for batting in the United Arab Emirates. The Proteas have an attack to thrive in most conditions, but the question is whether South Africa have the batting line-up to put up big enough scores.
“Conditions were not too bad in the IPL, but each ground was very different, which I didn’t expect because I thought the conditions would be pretty generic. But each ground poses a different set of challenges,” Markram said.
“The pitches are not the easiest to bat on, but once you get in, you can take the game away from the opposition. But it’s tough at first for the batsman coming in.
“Sharjah [where they play a qualifier and England] was probably the toughest batting pitch and Abu Dhabi the nicest to bat on.
“In general you’re looking to take pace off the ball, that’s the go-to, lots of changes in pace. And you have to bowl your spinners at the right time, getting that decision right is important.”