‘We have taken a step back’ – Markram, South Africa’s stand-in ODI captain

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JOHANNESBURG, February 17 (ANA) – South Africa’s stand-in ODI captain Aiden Markram said that despite the 5-1 series loss against India, the experience of leading the side will help him grow as a player.

Markram was speaking after Friday night’s 6th ODI at Centurion where India won by eight wickets with 107 balls left.

He said South Africa were “disappointed” but not necessarily “embarrassed”.

“Obviously, we have taken a step back because results-wise and performance-wise we haven’t moved forward,” said Markram, who was handed the captaincy reins with an eye to the future before the second game once Faf du Plessis pulled out with a finger injury.

“Having said that, I’d rather it happened now than two or three months before the World Cup starts or during the World Cup.

“There are lessons we can learn, but the most important thing is not to make the same mistakes going forward. I did feel during the series that we made mistakes from previous games, so we didn’t learn well from our lessons.

“It’s crucial now that we dig into what went wrong and rectify it so it doesn’t happen again.”

Markram agreed that South Africa had been outplayed in all departments of the game.

“The guys rocked up with a very good attitude today and were prepared to fight, prepared to go the distance. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. You’ve to give the Indians credit.

“All three phases of the game – their fielding, their batting and their bowling – was top drawer and that’s why the result is like it is. Credit must go to them. We were outplayed again, that’s all,” he said.

“If you look at how they set their innings up, there was always one of the top three in for the 40th over, and that’s crucial in this format.

Their bowlers controlled the middle period well. They’ve got two good quality spinners. And they strike up front with the new ball. They tick all their boxes and we’re going to work hard to do the same thing.”

Markram had led South Africa to the title at the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014.

Thrust into the hot seat in this series at 23, he oversaw four defeats in five matches and didn’t have a good run with the bat either, registering scores of 9, 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24.

Ottis Gibson, the South Africa coach, had wondered after the fifth ODI if the responsibility of being captain was weighing Markram down, and the young opening batsman agreed that it was a fair comment.

He also felt that gaining the experience of leading his national team at such an early stage of his career could only help him in the long run despite the result.

“It was obviously tough, and it was always going to be tough. Having said that, it was something I was really looking forward to as a challenge that I really enjoy. I can still say that sitting here, having lost the series 5-1, it’s a challenge that I really enjoy,” said Markram.

“And it’s a responsibility that I also enjoy. I learnt a lot, and to learn a lot at this stage of my career is not a bad thing. So going forward I am going to try and take the lessons that I did learn, and going forward rectify if I do captain again.

“But regardless of that, just this experience of it and dealing with all sorts of pressures, it’s all good, and it’s all for me to grow as a player.”