Proteas mentor Maketa believes Markram ‘will play 100 tests’ even as runs seemingly dry up | Sport

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  • Proteas interim Test coach Malibongwe Maketa believes Aiden Markram will still play 100 Tests despite being dropped for the tour to Australia.
  • Markram has only averaged 15.56 in his last 9 tests and has been given a break to get his game in order.
  • Maketa claims some time in domestic cricket will allow the right-hander to “dismantle his blueprint” and rediscover how he scores his runs.

Despite not having him available for next month’s Test tour of Australia, interim Proteas coach Malibongwe Maketa is still adamant that Aiden Markram will play 100 Tests.

Cynics will heave a sigh of outrage at Maketa’s optimism, particularly as the former World Cup-winning national Under-19 skipper has not been able to sustain a stellar start to his career in the top-flight format of the game.

Since mid-2021’s tour of the West Indies – the journey that marked a steady shift in South Africa’s fortunes in Test cricket – the 28-year-old has scored just 249 runs in his last 16 innings at an average of 15.56.

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Only once passed 50.

What makes that poor output even more disappointing is that last year’s tour of Pakistan, where he finished top scorer on both sides with scores of 108 and 74, supposedly suggested he had turned a new page.

Now he is rightfully back and playing provincial cricket.

Not that Maketa is concerned at all.

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“I am still convinced that Aiden can play 100 tests in this national group of players that we currently have,” he said.

“He’s going through a dip and it’s been decided to give him some rest. But it doesn’t close the door at all because we know what quality he has.”

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“I have no doubt he will go back to domestic cricket and score the points to go for a spot again when the opportunity arises.”

His position is encouraged by the reality that most top-class hitters don’t really mature until they’re in their thirties, when they’ve had time to learn their game from the inside out.

However, the question is whether domestic cricket is competitive enough for Markram to do that?

The elegant right-hander has never really had a problem dominating on a domestic level.

When he had to make a claim for ODI selection to qualify for England’s 50-over World Cup 2019, Markram hit an incredible 542 runs in five innings in the One-Day Cup, making him the leading runs-scorer for miles ended up.

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After the harsh lockdown of 2020, he also made 945 first-class runs at an average of 94.50 in just 12 innings to emphatically dispel any thoughts of him being banned from Tests.

In the end, it didn’t translate into Proteas’ success.

But, as Maketa argues, the precedent has been set.

“Aiden has already done it. He got locked out at the end of 2020, went to franchise cricket and made loads of runs, getting him back into contention,” said the Proteas mentor.

“That mental pause sometimes really helps you get your blueprint dismantled. You go back and remind yourself how you actually score points. And any player will like that answer better when away from the glare of international cricket.”