Opinion: Markram faces a defining month of March

Cricket Player in whites throws a ball in

Hindsight is 20/20, but giving Aiden Markram the captaincy for the ODI series against India was evidently the wrong idea.

His six-match experience of one of the most pressurised jobs in the country would have been significantly more fruitful had Faf du Plessis or AB de Villiers been around, but that wasn't the case.

Hashim Amla would have imparted what he could, but wouldn't have been as instructive and enthusiastic about the intricacies of on-field leadership, nifty field placements and timely bowling changes as du Plessis or de Villiers.

Now, Markram is left with a thorough five-one drubbing - and a string of promising starts but severe lack of conversion with the bat - to recover from.

While other stand-in skippers, most recently England's Jos Buttler, have been inspired to elevate their primary role with the willow, Markram did not. Australia's David Warner, too, endured a lean run of form at the top of the order during the recent trans-Tasman T20I tri-series with the English and New Zealanders. He had been deputising for the absent Steven Smith.

Markram managed nine, eight, 32, 22, 32 and 24 against the Indians, each time effectively pledging more but ultimately under-delivering. His main focus was seemingly distracted by other matters - understandably so.

Graeme Smith's feedback on Markram's captaincy didn't exactly inspire confidence in the 23-year-old, but also didn't write him off as a future leader. Smith, who also got the job at a young age, never sits on the proverbial fence - and Markram will do well to take this from where it comes.

"I don't think it was the right decision. I think it was an interim thing, not a full-time thing. I would rather have had him find his place, find his feet within the one-day set-up, try and get runs behind him. What was disappointing for me was that I don't think the other senior players stepped up around him," Smith said in a recent interview with ESPNcricinfo.

Thankfully, Markram is not part of the ongoing T20I series against Virat Kohli and company - and a return to Test cricket is pretty close. The Australian series will be the talented right-hander's biggest test yet - and should remind fans and critics alike of the initial intention behind Markram's call-up: open the batting in the longest format and do it well.

He has only had to face Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and India in Test cricket so far. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will be an entirely stronger challenge than Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

A bad series won't see Markram cast to the sidelines like Stephen Cook and Heino Kuhn before him because age is still on his side, but he needs to quickly shrug off the damage done by the one-dayers against India.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Hollywoodbets.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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