Aiden Markram © Getty Images
Aiden Markram © Getty Images

South Africa lost the services of regular skipper, Faf du Plessis after the series opener of the six-match ODI series versus India. Further more, they didn’t have AB de Villiers in the lineup till the scoreline became 0-3. Quinton de Kock got injured after the second ODI. As a result, they were never at a full strength versus a strong Indian outfit, and were further exposed due to their inability to read Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. With a 1-5 loss, former skipper Graeme Smith made it clear that appointing two-match old, and 23-year-old Aiden Markram as skipper wasn’t the right call.

‘Let’s just hope his confidence hasn’t taken a dent’

“I don’t think it was the right decision. 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.

I think in the short term, with AB coming in after three games he could have stepped in, and they could have looked at (JP) Duminy or (Hashim) Amla in the first couple and allowed someone like Markram just to settle. One, he was batting out of position at No. 4 at the start of the series, something he had to come to terms with, and then you’ve piled him under pressure not only on his own game but also as a captain. He would have gained a lot experience-wise but let’s just hope his confidence hasn’t taken a dent,” Smith told ESPNCricinfo.

Markram, U-19 World Cup winning captain, has impressed Smith with his maturity, but the latter is concerned that the next-tier of cricketers need ample time and space to develop — something which wasn’t the case with Markram.

“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,” added Smith.

In the six ODIs, Kuldeep and Chahal claimed 33 wickets together. The wrist spinners attacked simultaneously, and the South African batsmen never looked comfortable against them.

Smith lashed on the lack of planning and approach, but didn’t refrain from complimenting the Indian duo.

‘No plan B or C’

“You got to wonder what the chat was about in the change room and how they go about it. Obviously two world-class spinners, Chahal and Kuldeep, excellent finds for India. It’s just great to see some spin come back into the game. The mystery spinners had left the game for a period of time – the Ajmals, Warnes, Muralitharans, there’s been a little bit of a gap. So, it’s great to see two guys like that come into the game, it makes the game really interesting to watch.

South Africa really had no thought, no plan B or C. It was really just dot ball, dot ball, ‘okay let’s have a swing.’ There was no real plan, let’s try to build a partnership, it was almost like as the partnership builds it gets slightly easier and South Africa never found a way to do that,” concluded the 37-year-old.