South Africa batsman Aiden Markram leaves the ground after having been dismissed by Australia's bowler Mitchell Marsh.
South Africa batsman Aiden Markram leaves the ground after having been dismissed by Australia's bowler Mitchell Marsh.

Markram ‘enjoys’ Aussies’ sledging

SOUTH African star Aiden Markram played down the severity of Australia's on-field behaviour in Durban last night, with it now up to match officials to decide after the Test whether action is required.

Markram was at the centre of some animated flashpoints out in the middle, as Australia's explosive recent history with South Africa bubbled to the surface.

The magnitude of running out danger man AB de Villiers for a duck sparked a raucous reaction from the Australians, with David Warner firing verbals at Markram, the nonstriker responsible for the mix-up, and Lyon - who whipped off the bails - racing past a stranded de Villiers on the ground and dropping the ball so close to him it appeared to brush his body.

Markram said Lyon's actions had not been discussed in the South African dressing room and insinuated nothing below the belt occurred in the bellowing response that came his way from Warner, or a later confrontation with a fired-up Mitchell Starc.

Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, right, reacts after running out South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers, for a duck.
Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, right, reacts after running out South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers, for a duck.

Lyon, Warner and Starc as well as South African paceman Kagiso Rabada (who gave Warner a send-off earlier in the Test) could all come under scrutiny from match officials.

However, after batting his way to a brilliant century that at one point gave South Africa hope of an incredible comeback, Markram was happy to leave his baptism of fire against Australia on the field.

It seemed he relished the conflict.

"I think just having what happened (running out his skipper) did affect me a little bit and you hear every word out on the field," said Markram.

"But I don't speak back on the field, I try to just get on with what I do.

"It's always going to be there, it's part of the Australian side to keep chatting to batters but it's something I really do enjoy. It'll keep coming for the rest of the series but I enjoy it."

Australian bowler Nathan Lyon (TOP) drops the ball on South African batsman AB de Villiers (L) after running him out.
Australian bowler Nathan Lyon (TOP) drops the ball on South African batsman AB de Villiers (L) after running him out.

ICC officials can hand out fines and demerit points if they deem the actions provocative enough, but unlike Rabada, none of the Australians have any blemishes on their record.

Markram said he was not aware of any line being crossed by Lyon in the way he gleefully streaked past de Villiers on his way to celebrate.

"It's not been spoken about once yet. I didn't even know that happened, I've not heard anything like that just yet in the change rooms," said Markram.

Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, right, reacts after running out South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers, for a duck.
Australia's bowler Nathan Lyon, right, reacts after running out South Africa's batsman AB de Villiers, for a duck.

Meanwhile, Australian star Tim Paine also defended his side's animated response to de Villiers being unceremoniously sent on his way.

Lyon, Warner and later Starc all lit the powder keg for another explosive battle in South Africa as the Australians roared towards victory in Durban.

Coming on the back of a seismic moment where Warner spectacularly ran-out South Africa's key man in what could yet prove the play of the series, Paine said the Proteas would have responded the same way if the shoe was on the other foot.

Australia celebrate the run out of AB de Villiers of the Proteas right.
Australia celebrate the run out of AB de Villiers of the Proteas right.

"There wasn't too much aggression, I wouldn't say. We spoke to Aiden about running out their best player and one of the best players in the world," said Paine.

"I think had someone run Smithy (Steve Smith) out in our team you'd cop a fair bit of a ribbing. It was nothing aggressive.

"It was just reminding him of what he had just done, trying to get him off his game, the same as they do to us. It didn't work."

Australia’s comments didn’t rattle South African batsman Aiden Markram as raises his bat as he celebrates scoring a century during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at The Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.
Australia’s comments didn’t rattle South African batsman Aiden Markram as raises his bat as he celebrates scoring a century during the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at The Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.

Paine said Warner's not-so-gentle reminder to Markram matched the enormous importance of the moment, running out a player who is regarded one of the best of his generation.

"No I've seen David a lot more animated than that," said Paine.

"Obviously it was a huge wicket. You put a lot of planning into how you're going to bowl to someone like AB de Villiers, so to have him run out for zero … I think gets everyone a little bit excited. The boys were certainly pumped up to see him going back."

Starc had several heated cracks at Markram during an over as frustrations got to the big quick.

"He did (seem fired up). It was good to see actually. We enjoy it when Starcy is up and about like that and at the batters, because he bowls at high pace and can create chances all the time," he said.


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