• Markram ready to step up

    Aiden Markram has a history of putting in the big performances when the pressure is at its most intense, but the Northerns opener believes any one of his teammates has the ‘X-factor’ to influence the playoff stages of this weekend’s Africa T20 Cup. 

    Markram, the former South Africa U19 captain, played a match-winnings innings of 66 not out to steer his team to that the ICC Under-19 World Cup title in Dubai last year. Although Markram had a quiet opening Africa Cup T20 round in Benoni a couple of weeks ago, there are not many that would bet against the 20-year-old making a big play in the semi-final against KwaZulu-Natal at the Mangaung Oval on Saturday.

    ‘I want to contribute to the team’s cause all the time and I thought I was particularly poor at Willowmoore. There are no more excuses for being the youngest in the team and all that anymore,’ Markram said.

    ‘I don’t want to say I am going to perform in the playoffs just because of what has happened before in big finals and tournaments. I think it is due more to how we prepare here at the Titans, Northerns and Tukkies that we always doing things at high-intensity to prepare you for those big pressure moments.

    ‘It allows you remain calm when it arrives and perhaps that’s why I have done so well in the past.’

    Northerns have suffered a major blow ahead of the play-offs with their captain, Albie Morkel, called up to the Proteas T20 squad in India to replace fellow Northerns all-rounder, David Wiese. Morkel’s experience coupled with his big-hitting will be sorely missed, although Markram reckons the Centurion-based side have sufficient cover.

    ‘There’s no doubting Albie’s record, especially in the T20 format. It speaks for itself in terms of how much he will be missed. But there are guys eager to take his place and put their hands up. A guy like Theunis de Bruyn also missed out in Benoni, but he is a quality player that can change the course of any match with one big innings,’ Markram explained.

    ‘There are so many X-factor players in our team. We obviously respect the opposition, but you take another guy like Qaasim Adams who hits the ball a long way and, if he gets going, things happens very quickly.’

    However, Markram is not taking the KZN team lightly and knows there are players within the coastal side’s line-up who can equally change the course of a match in a blink of an eye.

    ‘Cameron Delport is the obvious danger. He has played plenty of Twenty20 cricket all around the world and is a very clean striker of the ball,’ he explained.

    ‘But in T20 it’s not the just the big guys you have to be wary of. We saw what Andries Gouws did for the Free State last weekend, so anyone in the KZN line-up can stand up on the day and play a blinder.’

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