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US World Cup pitches good for batting says Proteas skipper

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South Africa have three fixtures at New York’s Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, where Adelaide Oval’s head groundsman Damian Hough overlooked the process of installing the drop-in pitches earlier this year.

South African captain Aiden Markram during a warm up. Picture: Vipin Pawar, Shutterstock (14175661b)

Ongama Gcwabe

ONE of the first changes implemented by Proteas limited-overs coach Rob Walter was to hand over the captaincy to Aiden Markram.

This was a result of Markram successfully leading the Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the SA20 trophy in the inaugural season.

However, the right-handed batter had long shown outstanding leadership qualities as he captained South Africa to Under-19 World Cup glory in Abu Dhabi back in 2014, with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Andile Phehlukwayo also in the squad.

To this day, Markram is the only SA skipper to achieve this feat, and will hope to become the first to win the World Cup for the senior team in the upcoming T20 edition, which gets under way on Monday in the US and Caribbean.

“Naturally, the off-field responsibilities that you have as a captain at ICC events generally are a little bit more hectic, so I suppose just managing that,” Markram said this week as he assessed what lies ahead for him in his first senior men’s World Cup as captain.

“But we’ve got a great team in place here to make my life a lot easier in that regard, which allows me to focus on the cricket side of things.”

Markram told the media that despite the successful 2014 Under-19 World Cup being a massive achievement, the senior tournaments are a different ball-game.

The 29-year-old emphasised that winning the World Cup with the Proteas would be a much bigger feat than winning it at Under-19 level.

“To be honest, I don’t take too much from it (the Under-19 World Cup). I see it as a completely different level of cricket. It was a really long time ago; there is a small element of belief and confidence you could potentially take from it,” Markram continued.

“But for me, if we win this World Cup, that would be the first World Cup that we win.

“So, it’s not to disregard what we did at Under-19 level – that was a massive achievement for us and one that we are still incredibly proud of – but I think this one would certainly mean a hell of a lot more.”

South Africa have three fixtures at New York’s Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, where Adelaide Oval’s head groundsman Damian Hough overlooked the process of installing the drop-in pitches earlier this year.

This means the conditions and how the wicket will play is a mystery for all teams going into the World Cup.

However, the Proteas had an intra-squad match on Wednesday at Broward County Stadium in Florida, where Hough’s drop-in pitches have been utilised as well.

With their brief exposure to the conditions, Markram said the pitches tend to favour batting.

Luckily for South Africa, India will play Bangladesh in New York today, so that’s a game that will give insight into the conditions.

Coach Walter will attend the match at the ground to get a feel of what New York has to offer before the Proteas play Sri Lanka in their opener on Monday (4.30pm SA time start) at the same venue on Long Island.

“If I looked at how we sort of operated in our internal matches, it still looked pretty good for batting,” said Markram.

“I don’t think the wickets will be as quick as they are at home, and then maybe in a place like Australia, but that’s just the feeling that I got. So we’re going to have to pick up as much info as we can along the way.

“(The Proteas will) watch warm-up games that might be played there in New York, where we play three of our (World Cup) games, and take as much information from that bit before the game as we can.

“I know that coach Rob’s going to go. It’ll probably be an optional thing (for players) – I think the schedule is so busy. I’m sure everyone’s going to have their eyes on that game either way.”

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