South Africa pacer Morne Morkel’s decision to retire from international cricket comes as a major surprise after one might think he had still a lot to offer in the game. The Proteas legend announced his decision to bid adieu to the game after the four-match home Test series against Australia.
One of the most prolific pacers of modern day cricket, Morkel cited family reasons behind his decision to call it quits from all the formats of the game. Against India in the Test series last month, he looked menacing and sharp after snapping 13 wickets in three matches. South Africa will miss the services of one of their most successful bowlers once the day comes when he leaves the stage.
The lanky pacer had a career-threatening injury in 2016, and despite that he returned like a hero and was slowly found his rhythm back. He managed to make a comeback against the Black Caps, and then impressed largely in England becoming the highest wicket-taker in the series.
His first five-for in over five years came against Zimbabwe in 2017 and that was it when one was assured of the heights Morkel could soon find himself in with so much achieved prior to that. Morkel’s telling attributes was always a concern for the opposition. Being utterly aggressive, he also had a lot of zip and carry after hitting the deck hard.
In a fitting career, the pacer, who made his debut against India in 2006, has spent up to 12 years in the international scenario and along the time he gained the status as one of the best Proteas bowlers of all time.
The reason behind his decision
The fast bowler stated that it is clearly a family decision that made him think to take this step. According to the ESPN, Morkel said, “It’s a family decision. I’ve put a lot thought into it. It’s the right time for me to start a new chapter. For clarity’s sake, I’ve got a young family, I’ve got a foreign wife.”
Morkel should be credited for making a tough decision with his Australian wife working on the television production of the Big Bash League (BBL). He will now get a lot of time to spend with his family and children and the timing is indeed good one after all the achievements over the years.
300-wicket club in Tests
Morkel has 294 Test wickets to his name and has the chance to break into the 300-wicket club in the series against Australia. He stated that he is 100% focused on the series against the Aussies starting on Thursday and this in turn provides him with the chance of entering a famous club. He could go on to become only the fifth South African bowler to take 300+ wickets in Tests.
Highest Test wicket-takers for South Africa
- Shaun Pollock – 421 wickets
- Dale Steyn – 419 wickets
- Makhaya Ntini – 390 wickets
- Alan Donald – 330 wickets
- Morne Morkel – 294 wickets
Pumped up against the Aussies
Morkel will be raring to have a go against the Steve Smith-led Australia, who will be a tougher opposition than India especially after their 4-0 Ashes drubbing of England in 2017-18. Against the best, Morkel will be pumped up to give his all go out with a high.
Given it is his final assignment in international cricket, the 33-year-old no wonder will look to form a lethal combination alongside Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada in order to spell trouble for the Aussies. The trio were brilliant against India.
A rare breed of bowler
Blended with height, pace and serious carry, Morkel was a rare breed of one of the most complete pacers in the game. He has been terrorising batsmen for a long time and gave his everything once he had the ball in his hand.
The pacer had his early struggle of bowling a lot of no-balls but he tweaked his stepping and soon found results. His partnership with Dale Steyn is one of the best the world of cricket has ever witnessed with both bringing the goodness of each other on the 22-yard pitch.
What next for Proteas cricket
Morkel will definitely leave a gaping hole after his retirement and it is an interesting phase for South African cricket to dish out world class bowlers. Kagiso Rabada has shown he has it in him to take over as the the side’s leader of the pace pack. Young Lungi Ngidi, who made his debut against India last month, already impressed to show why he is a special talent.
The management will hope to nurture and nourish young crop of bowlers and help them reach heights Morkel achieved.