DURHAM signing Aiden Markram is convinced the spirit of cricket is still alive despite the fall-out from the Australia ball-tampering scandal he witnessed at close hand.
The 23-year-old South Africa opener and his team-mates found themselves at the centre of an international furore during their 3-1 Test series victory which saw the tourists’ skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned for conspiring to alter the condition of the ball.
Markram, who captained his country to Under-19s World Cup glory, will continue his education in the game with a short spell at Durham, where he will play the first four games of their Specsavers County Championship campaign.
And afer distinguishing himself with two centuries in the series against Australia, he says the game’s integrity remains largely intact. Asked if the spirit of cricket still exists, he said: “I do think it exists, yes.
“On the field, there are a lot of pressures to deal with and a lot of competitive juices that get flowing, and that’s when it’s the toughest part to try to keep it in the spirit of cricket. “But definitely afterwards or after something, let’s say, happens that is not in the spirit of cricket, you get your apology very quickly and you get your reasons behind it. “If the reasons make sense to you, then you accept your apology; if not, you try to look past it. “But I still think there is that element in the game and I don’t think it is something we should lose at all. For as long as I play, wherever I play in the world, it’s something I’ll encourage and drive forward because at the end of the day, it is the gentleman’s game and it’s a big part of cricket itself.” Markram and his team-mates were innocent by-standers as the drama unfolded during the third Test in Cape Town, and says they were stunned when they Aiden Markram learned what had transpired. He said: “We were very shocked. The heat of the series was obviously happening. It was the third Test match and it was a crunch game, and the next thing, the story broke out.
“Everyone woke up the next morning and the guys couldn’t believe what had happened.
“It obviously hit home overnight and it was tough to see what the Australians went through. You don’t wish that on your worst enemy, so I’m sure they’re glad it’s done and we’re glad it’s done.
“The punishments that were dealt out were harsh, but having said that, you also can’t let people get away with what they did.”
Markram has reached 1,000 Test runs in just 10 matches, two quicker than revered former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith. That invites inevitable, if – he believes – unfair, comparisons.
He said: “If I could be half the player Graeme Smith was, I’ll take that with open arms. I don’t think it’s a fair comparison, but that’s sort of how the world works.
“I quite enjoy having pressure and getting stuck into any situation, and hopefully going forward, it keeps working out like it has because it’s been a blessing of a start.”