MORNE MORKEL – PROTEAS BLUE EYED BABY
Morne Morkel cut his teeth at Easterns and rose to prominence in the 2006-07 season when he was picked for a Rest of South Africa side against the touring Indians.
A family of cricketers was a very good breeding ground for Morne. His sibling Albie Morkel also played for South Africa in ODIs, T20 games. His father Albert Morkel also played grade cricket for South Africa.
He spent 2007 trying to establish himself in international cricket and broke through the ranks of the Proteas team in 2008. Morkel was the joint leading wicket-taker on South Africa’s tour of England and played a key part in their first series win there since readmission.
He was picked for South Africa’s tour to Australia in December 2008 on the basis of the form he displayed in county cricket, but to everyone’s dismay he flattered to deceive, dishing out some insipid bowling spells.
He was once again drafted into the squad for the World T20 in June 2009 in England, where he had moderate success before being overlooked for the Champions Trophy at home.
Morne honed the skill and returned the next year, after Makhaya Ntini’s retirement, to share the new ball with Dale Steyn, and had great success. He took Test 49 wickets in 2010, his highest in a calendar year. The following year he had ODI success, taking 26 wickets at 17.65 in three series
Constant monitoring by Allan Donald did him a world of good. His ability to hit the deck hard and generate extra bounce at a searing pace has been amongst the primary reasons for his success. He has had his share of injury worries, but his gifted ability to extract awkward bounce from a length at good pace has meant that he has always been a part of the South African bowling attack.
He was a major cog in the wheel of the Proteas that dethroned England to claim the ICC’s Test mace for the first time and contributed more than he received recognition for. Morkel was the top wicket-taker on the 2012 tour to Australia, where South Africa successfully defended the No. 1 ranking.
Morkel also enjoyed bragging rights over some of the world’s best batsmen. His bunnies were Michel Hussey and Andrew Strauss whom he has dismissed most times in Tests., viz., 9 times and 8 times respectively.
He was then picked for the home series against England, in which his match-winning spell with the ball on the first morning of the fourth Test at Wanderers proved to be decisive, going a long way in helping South Africa win the Test and level the series, thus preventing a complete humiliation at the hands of England, whom they had convincingly beaten on their previous tour in 2008.
After a lackluster 2009, Morkel had his best year in Tests to date. He went on to form a formidable combo with Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, arguably the best attack in the world for the next 2-3 years. Morkel played his 50th Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
With regards to the IPL, after having little success with Rajasthan, he was picked up by Delhi in 2011 for USD 475,000. He had a moderate first season, where his team finished at the bottom. However, he went on to become the leading wicket-taker in 2012 with 25 sticks, finishing with the purple cap as well. During the 2014 auction, he was picked up by Kolkata.
Morkel finished as the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in the 2015 ODI World Cup.
In Feb.2018, Morne Morkel made a startling decision to quit international cricket post Australia’s visit in February-April. He put the decision to retire down to a young family and a demanding international schedule.
Surrey have signed South African fast bowler Morne Morkel on a two-year Kolpak deal, in 2018. He had a very good stint with Surrey including the County side winning the County cup.
And now he’s part of BBL’s Brisbane Heat team of Australia.
Happy birthday Morne Morkel.