Proteas batsman Aiden Markram says time away from the game during the Covid-19 lockdown gave him the opportunity to regather his thoughts, which ultimately helped him return to form on the domestic scene.
Markram has been superb with bat in hand for the Titans in the 4-Day Franchise Series, scoring three centuries in as many innings for the men from Pretoria.
But, it is a far cry from the struggles the opener endured in the 12-18 months prior to cricket’s restart in the country, where multiple injury problems and a lack of consistent runs saw him fall out of favour somewhat in the national team.
Time away from the game, when the whole of South Africa and the cricketing world were forced into lockdown, though, presented Markram with the chance to unwind – something he says came as a ‘blessing in disguise’ for him personally.
‘I played a lot of cricket where I was struggling so it’s been a time to touch base with things that maybe worked in the past and just to slow things down,’ Markram told members of the media on Wednesday morning.
Markram, who was part of the Proteas outfit that suffered a 2-0 series defeat to Sri Lanka last time round, missed the final Test against India last year due to a self-enforced injury before only competing in the opening Test match against England after a thumb injury ruled him out for the remainder of that tour.
‘It felt like everything was becoming more and more rushed with a lot of games none stop and when you’re out of form it’s quite a tough place to be. It can almost be a bit of a snowball effect so the time we had off during lockdown was great.’
It means it will be exactly a year since Markram last played in South African colours when the first Test against the Sri Lankans get under way in Centurion on Saturday.
With no Pieter Malan in the Proteas squad, Markram is expected to partner his Titans teammate Dean Elgar once again at the top of the order and he is hoping that domestic form can carry over onto the international stage after the year he’s had.
‘Just to clear the mind, get all the clouded thoughts out and get a lot more clarity in sorts for batting and game plans moving forward. That’s probably been the biggest help – it certainly hasn’t been easy technically,’ Markram added.