Was Albie Morkel really the best available all-rounder to replace the injured David Wiese for South Africa’s three T20Is against India?
The choice of the 34-year-old Morkel is an interesting one considering the choices available, although to be fair none of the three leading candidates to replace Wiese fills the heart with confidence.
Morkel has been preferred ahead of the likes of Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren, but it’s not really clear why. What Morkel’s selection does highlight, however, is the current lack of confidence in the abilities of Parnell and McLaren.
This will be an especially big blow to McLaren, who couldn’t get the nod ahead of Morkel despite the latter not being in particularly good form.
One suspects that Morkel’s vast experience in Indian conditions, accumulated through playing in the IPL, was a big factor in the decision to pick him. Morkel has played in every season of the IPL since its inception in 2008.
This is probably his last chance to play international cricket for South Africa and if it goes well he might be a surprise selection for next year’s T20 World Cup, which will be staged in India.
Coincidentally, the last time Morkel played for the Proteas was against India in the semi-finals of the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, which South Africa lost by six wickets.
He has struggled to perform at the IPL for the last three years and missed out on the World Cup squad earlier this year and last played an ODI for South Africa back in 2012.
Many fans called for Morkel’s delayed inclusion in the World Cup squad after he scored 134 in the Momentum One-Day Cup final to guide the Titans to the title against the Cape Cobras, but it was a rare spike in performance rather than a consistent feature of his game.
On the other hand, McLaren (32) has struggled to reclaim his place after losing form prior to the World Cup while Parnell (26) continues to struggle for any sort of consistency in his game and was deemed lucky to go to the World Cup ahead of McLaren.
Now both find themselves in the international wilderness. The new domestic season can’t come soon enough as Parnell has since moved to the Cobras in a switch he hopes will revive his waning career.
Morkel’s selection is probably not ideal, but he remains a very experienced player and considering the alternatives, there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut better option at this stage.
With the T20 World Cup being played in the first half of next year, it also means he doesn’t have to be a long-term option, should he be selected for that tournament for whatever reason.