Unburdened by expectations but with an added responsibility of guiding players and even selflessly disregarding his own spectacular bowling skills to allow other stars opportunities, Albie Morkel is very motivated to add more trophies to the Multiply Titans cabinet.
At the age of 36, Morkel says he now plays to enjoy the game and keep himself happy; not to prove anything to an expectant world.
And as a captain, he feels that the players appointed him and that he should do his utmost to connect with them and understand what propels them to the peak of their powers.
Asked about other captains and if he learns specific new skills from skippers like Faf du Plessis, Morkel said he doesn’t like it to copy other leaders, but to trust his instincts and gut feelings when he walks onto the park.
“If you cannot back your own instincts and change things on the field, a robot can just as well be the skipper.
“Connecting with players and understanding their skills and what motivates them, is the most important aspect of captaincy,” he said.
Morkel hardly bowled in the Momentum One Day Cup competition last season. It was a deliberate ploy to give Lungi Ngidi and Junior Dala more exposure. He says he knows that Ngidi might play for South Africa and feels the young fast bowler requires the space in which to perform and take four- or five-wicket hauls.
He still practices his own bowling skills every day and will take the ball when there are swinging conditions and he needs to step in.
“But just remember that we also had other bowlers like Chris Morris and David Wiese available,” he added.
Morkel has been superb in white-ball cricket the past three years. He captured 3-12 in his 50th T20-match for South Africa and was awarded the ultimate accolade as domestic T20-player of the year in 2015/2016.
Under his astute captaincy, the Multiply Titans won three out of four trophies on offer the past two seasons.
As a batsman, he has been destructive, averaging 93.33 in 2014/2015 which included a match-winning 134 in the 50-over domestic showpiece.
He averaged 50.14 last season and blasted a mature century against the VKB Knights when the rest of the top- and middle-order looked out of sorts against the aggressive Marchant de Lange.
Against the bizhub Highveld Lions, his expert acceleration and composed half-century secured a batting revival and the Multiply Titans overwhelmed their Jukskei neighbours.
Morkel has no expectations to represent South Africa and to add to his 58 One Day Internationals or 50 T20-matches for South Africa, but his coach, Mark Boucher, feels entirely different.
Last season he expressed the opinion that the hard-hitting Morkel, whose bowling improved the past two years, is still good enough to represent South Africa in the T20-format.