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New mindset for Markram

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“It’s now a case of – not getting nice 30s and 40s, I want to do the hard work. Take a leaf out of Dean Elgar’s book and work hard.”

Never mind the thousands of know-it-all critics shouting on radio talk-shows, or writing letters to newspaper editors or posting their thoughts on social media – Aiden Markram is his own harshest critic.

After a few months out of the spotlight – as a result of an injury lay-off – the talented 25-year-old opening batsman, has thrust his name back into the public’s conscious with a pair of hundreds in a week for the Titans in the Momentum One-Day Cup.

His performance on Sunday against the Lions, on a tricky pitch at the Wanderers, indicated once again his terrific technique and also mental resolve as he guided his side to a vital victory over their provincial neighbours.

Markram used the time that he was out of the spotlight to reflect on his career to date, and he was not happy – with himself. “I was a little spoiled, maybe even a bit of brat in the initial stages of my career, and I thought everything would be fine. I needed this kick up the arse and now it’s about putting the head down and working hard.”

The heady days of 2018, especially the Test series against Australia where he scored two hundreds against an attack featuring Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, seemed a long way off when 18 months later he was smashing his fist into a wall and breaking his hand in the process after making “a pair,” in the second Test against India in Pune last October.

Markram’s overall Test record remains a good one – he’s scored 1 424 runs in 20 matches at an average of 38.48. Last year he averaged 28.61 in 13 Test innings and his problems against spin – first highlighted in Sri Lanka in 2018 – continued in India last year.

Since returning from a fractured finger, which he picked up while fielding in the first Test against England in December, Markram has barely merited a mention as far as the Proteas is concerned. He played no part in the series against Australia nor is he in the squad that is preparing to face India in three ODIs. And Markram is just fine with that.

“At the end of the day I’m to blame. I’ve been given a fair crack in white ball cricket and Test cricket. It’s up to me to now put numbers on the board. I’m really happy for the guys who are doing well at the Proteas, it’s really good to see the Proteas rebuilding and winning big series like that (against Australia).”

Markram met last week with Cricket SA’s interim Director of Cricket Graeme Smith, where it was made clear to him, that he remains a part of the plans for the Proteas. However, Markram is also aware of what he needs to do to play for the national team again.

“I don’t want to put too much focus into getting back into that team, I’m putting all my energy into the Titans and trusting processes and really, working hard.

“It’s now a case of – not getting nice 30s and 40s, I want to do the hard work. Take a leaf out of Dean Elgar’s book and work hard.

“That’s where my mindset has changed.”