Aiden Markram learnt a lot about what it means to play cricket at the highest level. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURHAM – An “eventful” Test series between South Africa and Australia was a “big eye-opener” for him, and he learnt a lot about what it meant to play cricket at the highest level, said South Africa opener Aiden Markram.

Markram was speaking in a press conference soon after his arrival in Durham, England, where he has signed a deal for the early part of the 2018 County Championship season

The four-match Test series, which finished 3-1 in the hosts’ favour, saw several players from both sides pulled up by the officials for their behaviour. 

During the third Test, Australia were rocked by the ball-tampering scandal, which resulted in 12-month bans for Steve Smith and David Warner, and a nine-month punishment for Cameron Bancroft.

“I went up to Faf (du Plessis, the South Africa captain) and said, ‘Listen, is this international Test match cricket?’ He just laughed and said no, it’s not how it’s going to be,” said Markram, whose two centuries were among the highlights of the series.

Despite several skirmishes between the sides, the South Africans were shocked to wake up to the news of the ball-tampering scandal, he said.

“It was tough to see what the Australians went through. You don't wish that on your worst enemy.

“I'm sure they're glad it's done and we're glad it's done. It was a really tough series, and fortunately, we came out the right side. But it was very tough.”

Markram, 23, who in 10 Tests already has four hundreds and three half-centuries, added, “It was not nice for the individuals and what Steve and Dave have gone through, you do have sympathy for them.

“It was a big eye-opener, a lot of learning took place, and it was quite important for me.”

Aiden Markram during the Test series against Australia. Photo: Cricket SA
Aiden Markram during the Test series against Australia. Photo: Cricket SA

With the youngster’s leadership qualities already evident – he led South Africa’s Under 19 squad to the World Cup title in 2014 and captained the senior side in a ODI series against India this year – the county side is keen that the team learn from how he’s embraced responsibility.

“I try to offer advice wherever I can, but I’m still young and have a lot to learn myself,” said Markram.

“I’ll always be there for a shoulder to cry on, a bit of advice and a bit of compassion helping players get through tough times. We all know how this game works, it’s not always easy for everyone.” 

African News Agency (ANA)

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