"Morné Morkel had a point to prove."
“Morné Morkel had a point to prove and responded with magnificent performances in the ICC’s Champions Trophy tournament. He is world-class,” says Paul Harris, former South African spinner, in assessing the performance by the Multiply Titans stalwart and South African pace merchant Morkel.
The Standard Bank Proteas were knocked out of the global tournament by India on Sunday, but Morkel and Imran Tahir can hold up their heads high as they both took five wickets. Morkel captured 3-18 in seven overs in the defeat against Pakistan and was a constant thorn in the flesh of the Asian heavyweights.
Harris says he can understand how Morkel could be on course to be possibly the second-quickest South African bowler in history to 200 scalps in ODIs, having currently standing on 186 wickets from 112 matches. Allan Donald reached the milestone in 117 matches, while Shaun Pollock achieved 200 victims in 138.
“He bowls short of a length and often hit the splice of the bat. When you ask batsmen which bowler they least likely want to face, nine out of ten will tell you it is Morkel,” says Harris.
“He is a bit like Steve Harmison, when he represented England. That steep bounce is difficult to contend with because of Morkel’s height and his rapid pace as well as that length which sees the ball rearsup to the batsman.”
Geoffrey Toyana, coach of the bizhub Highveld Lions, said Morkel is a quality fast bowler and had a point to prove, which explains why he captured five wickets in the Champions Trophy tournament at an average of 17.40 and an economy-rate of 4.35.
“He nips it back into the right-handed batsman, and has had a lot of success against left-handed batsmen because he takes it across them,” says Toyana.
Robin Peterson, a former South African left-arm spinner and also a useful lower-order batsman who played for South Africa in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, says Morkel’s pace and his awkward bounce makes life very unpleasant for batsman.
He has bowled a tad fuller during the Champions Trophy because of new skills he has developed in the last 12 months.
“Morne’s natural length in ODIs is short of a length. He has the pace, the bounce and he moves the ball. He also has the steel and the character and that is what contributed to his 186 wickets at 24.48,” says Peterson.
Toyana adds that at age 32, Morkel can still represent South Africa in Tests and ODIs for a number of years to come because of his quality, experience, pace and disconcerting bounce which unnerves batsmen all over the world.