Markram and Proteas emboldened by 'awesome news' of fans' return: 'It's a win-win'

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Aiden Markram. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Aiden Markram. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • Proteas star Aiden Markram hailed government's decision to allow limited crowds to return to sporting events as "awesome news".
  • The 26-year-old batter believes the situation is a proverbial "win-win" and isn't too perturbed about the low number.
  • While the Proteas' movements are still restricted at the ICC World T20 in the UAE, Markram says the substantial number of spectators permitted to attend will give the tournament a normal feel.

Aiden Markram and his team-mates will have to wait until the end of November to experience it, but the Proteas ace welcomed government's decision to allow for a limited number of fans to return to sporting events, labelling the latest development as a "win-win".

The regulations - widely expected after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a reversion back to Level One lockdown restrictions - permit up to 2 000 spectators at events and will be put to the test when that number of vaccinated people attend Bafana Bafana's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

The Proteas, currently preparing for the ICC World T20 in the UAE, begin their home season against the Netherlands in a three-match ODI series starting on November 26.

READ | CONFIRMED | 2 000 vaccinated fans allowed to attend Bafana Bafana v Ethiopia

"I wasn't even aware of that, but I saw in the past few weeks that there was talk of this happening. That's awesome news to hear," Markram said on Monday.

"For us as players, it's always exciting playing in front of crowds. Our home supporters are always in our corner and really love the game of cricket.

"It will be really nice to have them back. It won't be full capacity, but it's better than nothing. It's a win-win for everyone. We love performing in front of them and they'll have an enjoyable time watching us perform."

Meanwhile, the South Africans emerged from their mandatory quarantine period in the UAE to commence their preparations on Monday.

Markram, however, noted that the teams are still operating in a relatively isolated bio-secure environment.

"Yeah, the bubble is actually quite strict. We're pretty much used to it by now, it almost feels normal in a sense," he said.

"We have allocated times for training sessions and in a Covid-free world that would've meant we could go a bit over time, but now it's very structured because everything needs to be sanitised for the next team.

"We have gym sessions and recovery too, but outside training we're pretty much having dinner among ourselves and catching up with each other. We're almost a full squad, there are only three guys still missing due to IPL duty, so the friendship aspect feels very prominent at the moment."

While movement then is still rather restricted, Markram believes the players find solace in the fact that fan attendance of up to 75% will be allowed for the tournament.

"It's quite a high percentage. There will be decent sized crowds and that excites us," he said.

"That will definitely give the tournament more of a normal feel on match days. That will create a good atmosphere and creates a bit of added pressure too." 

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