Proteas opener Aiden Markram has had his copybook seriously blotted by Sri Lanka.
In four Tests he’s played against them‚ he’s never emerged on the winning side.
That includes last year’s shocking 2-0 home defeat‚ the first one by an Asian side inflicted on South Africa on home soil.
His contributions in those matches were minimal‚ with only one score of over 50.
Markram acknowledged they’ll need to jack up their act for the Test series that starts on Saturday at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Boxing Day.
“We touched on what happened in that particular series and it’s hard to pin-point why we went 2-0 down in that series.
“At the end of the day‚ our skills weren’t up to scratch and we didn’t perform well enough to win the series. Our focus now is to hit the ground running” Markram said.
“We haven’t played Test cricket in a while so the hunger levels are up there for every individual in the camp‚ as I’m sure it will be the same for Sri Lanka.
“It’s about putting performances on the board because that is how we’re going to get results. It’s about getting into positions where we can win the game.”
Markram sidestepped the captaincy debate deftly‚ saying that he’s got his place in the team to secure before he can entertain leadership thoughts.
Markram has already captained at international level and it was a chastening experience for him.
“Captaincy is something I enjoy‚ but I haven’t put much focus on it. I’m in a position now where I’m playing for my spot again.
“Thinking about captaincy is certainly not on my radar. I need to score a lot of runs for the country if I do play and whatever team I play for‚” Markram said.
“It’s something that I have addressed and I certainly haven’t been good enough over the past 18 months.
“If I do get the chance to play‚ it’s about scoring runs. There are leaders in the camp and each guy has a unique way of leading.
“The guys have tapped into each other from that perspective and that’s how we’ll get the team moving in the right direction.”
Covid-19 travelling restrictions have meant that South Africa will have to play in front of two home umpires in Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock.
They’re excellent‚ with the former highly rated in world cricket.
Markram’s not even worried about the umpires‚ but the current conditions means they’ll have to play in front of an empty stadium.
He may be accustomed to it because of franchise cricket‚ but it’s a different story at Test level.
“The bigger challenge will be playing in front of an empty stadium. The umpires are experienced and they’re good. So there aren’t any issues of bias.
“There is the review system for anything that may happen. It is something new and different because of the times we’re going through‚” Markram said.
“I don’t think it will affect things on the field by having two local umpires.
“It’ll still be fairly similar‚ so it’s going to be up to us to create an intensity that is similar if times were normal.”