It will be huge for me to win the SA20 again: Aiden Markram

"Getting [the title] once was obviously incredible last year, so it’s much harder to do it back to back. It’s been really fulfilling not just for me but for everyone involved," Markram said.

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Aiden Markram
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Aiden Markram. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain Aiden Markram provided insights into the team's performance and outlook as they gear up for the first qualifier against Durban Super Giants on February 6 at 9:00 PM IST in the SA20. Reflecting on their journey thus far, Markram highlighted the significance of winning close games and the contributions of key players like Ottniel Baartman. He discussed the challenges and rewards of captaincy, the busy T20 schedule ahead, and the team's focus on securing a spot in the final. With aspirations to defend their title, Markram also emphasized the team's motivation and the potential for emerging talents like Jordan Hermann to make significant contributions.

Speaking on getting into the playoffs for a second year in a row, Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain Aiden Markram said “I wouldn’t say anything new that we've done or tried. Looking back at the group stages of the competition, we have had quite a few close games. And if you manage to win those close games, or most of them at least, you end up sitting in a great position. So we have been fortunate to get over the line in those close games. We had like 4 or 5 of them. Last year we probably missed out on a couple of those close ones, but this year we managed to get over the line. And because of that, it has sort of been a fantastic campaign for us.”

Speaking on the impact that Ottniel Baartman has had on the squad, Markram said “Yeah, he has been fantastic for us. He is known in South Africa to be a really good death bowler. He has got great plans and tends to execute them really well. Obviously there has been a couple of games he has missed out on due to a few niggles, but that happens in a busy competition like the SA20. Every time he has played for us he has taken that responsibility of bowling the really tough overs and he enjoys that challenge. And he has got the skill set to execute it. So we are really happy that he is in our team and our changing room and we have got his skills at our disposal. It's great for him to go from strength to strength each year.”

Markram also spoke about his experiences captaining various sides over the past years, he said “Yeah, it's been fantastic. There is an opportunity to learn a lot in the last year or so that I have been captain. I have been captaining a while, so it’s nice to be captain again and take up that responsibility. Obviously you learn on the job and make the team a better place for everyone to enjoy themselves and be the better team on the field as well. Love the opportunity to be captain and the responsibilities that come with it. A lot of credit goes to the management at SEC and the players that have walked in here have understood the culture and how we like things to run. I’m not sure about IPL just yet, but if I compare it to last year, you’ve got different cultures and different people with regards to the SA20 and the IPL. Most of the players in our team are South African so I've known them for many years and have played a lot of games with them. And the relationships have been solid now for years, and I’ve grown to know them over the years and it’s a lot easier that way. I think for the IPL, it’s great to know people from the IPL standpoint, what gets them to tick and what gets them to perform. I think that’s the most important. So it presents a lot of unique challenges but they are challenges I would love to take on.”

Markram also spoke on the busy T20 schedule that is set to take place in 2024, he said “Yeah, it’s busy, but it’s great to be busy. I suppose we are living our dream. It’s nice to be involved in these competitions. Maintaining form is obviously ideal but we have to remember it’s still a game of cricket. And things can fluctuate quite a bit. But to remain the same person when you’re doing well or not doing well, and to stick to the same ways you prepare will give you the best chance to succeed. And hopefully when you go down to the middle, you are sort of at ease with whatever happens because you have prepared well. Then you take whatever you have prepared into each competition, IPL, World Cup, whatever, but as long as you’re giving yourself the best chance to do well in the matches, that has to be your preparation.”

Markram also shared his thoughts on the upcoming SA20 Qualifier for the final, he said “Yeah, I think we are looking forward to the first qualifier, there's no bigger incentive than if you win it you go straight to the final and give yourself a crack at lifting the trophy again. So that’s where our mentality is at the moment. Complete focus on the qualifiers so we can go straight to the final, and the added incentive of not going to Joburg and playing in the eliminator. So hopefully we have a good game and get a couple of days off and then we go straight to the finals.”

Markram also spoke about how big an achievement it will be if they win the trophy once again this year, he said “Yeah, it'll be huge for me to be honest. Getting it once was obviously incredible last year, so it’s much harder to do it back to back. It’s been really fulfilling not just for me but for everyone involved. We are pretty motivated to try and get the job done. I think going back to back is really difficult especially if you look at the quality of opposition in the league, quality of players and other teams. So we are pretty motivated at the moment and that’s where our focus is.”

Markram also spoke on whether the team has helped players like Jordan Hermann shine this season, he said “Yeah, it’s really not up to us, it’s all down to him. If you are able to see what he does behind closed doors you won’t be surprised with the performances that he puts in. Obviously he is still very young and is learning on the job. He has not played a lot of cricket other than SA20, but he hits millions of balls, trains really hard and is always trying to improve his game. His ability to play at such a young age is making South Africa really excited about him. He’s got a strong character and he’s got the hunger to win games and contribute to a winning team. And the stability he has makes him a special talent that we have here in South Africa. So hopefully we make it to the final and he puts in a big performance for us in the final.”

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