Proteas batsman Aiden Markram is determined to put the challenges of the past behind him and make a welcome return to form.
The right-hander will be in action from Monday as the Titans face the Warriors in the second round of the 4-Day Franchise Series.
Markram missed out on a spot in the Proteas limited-overs squad to face England at the end of the month, but looks set to have a valuable role to play for South Africa over the course of the summer season.
The 26-year-old’s form in the past 18 months had become a worry for the Proteas with constant battles to kick on following good starts at the top of the order.
‘Lockdown gave me the chance to sit back and look at what worked in the past for me, and the people that helped me,’ he told IOL Sport.
‘It was a blessing in disguise. I think when you’re playing a lot of cricket and you’re on the road, a lot of things happen very quickly, and without you noticing, you’ve gone through a few bad months in your career. It was nice to get the mind right and get all the rubbish out of the mind and get back to doing what you need to do to do well for whichever team you’re playing for.’
Markram has represented the Proteas in 20 Test matches and is one of the possible candidates in line for the new role as captain of the team. He believes he is now in a better space of mind to score some runs again.
‘I’m still convinced that any cricketer goes through challenges in their career. Mine was bad form, a couple of injuries, some self-inflicted. It was a tough two months. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But it has been good to get through it and get the body healthy and strong again.’
Markam, though, is hoping to regain his spot in the Test outfit for the Sri Lanka series on home soil, which gets under way on Boxing Day.
Pieter Malan opened the batting alongside Dean Elgar in the Proteas’ most recent Test series against England after Markram was ruled out with injury after the opening clash in Centurion.
‘Dean will always tell you the honest truth. He’s made me hungry and told me to work hard in order to get back into the team. He is pushing me hard, which is great because I tend to respond quite well when he guides me. It is a relationship that I value a lot,’ he said.
‘We have come a long way. I love batting with him. I wish people had the opportunity to see how he went about his business this week. It was a treat to watch. The value he adds in the field, with bat in hand, and more importantly his composure and experience is great,’ Markram added.