Morne Morkel is ecstatic with his return to the Proteas setup and has given some insight about his journey to recovery.
The Proteas paceman took 2-62 on his return from injury against New Zealand in Dunedin, and will hope to improve his performance in the second Test against the Black Caps.
In an interview with Cricinfo, the 32-year-old revealed what it was like to play his first Test match since January 2016.
‘I was a little bit nervous because I hadn’t been in the field for longer than 50 overs. In the back of my mind it was going to be a real test going for more than 20 overs with the ball and 100 overs in the field,’ Morkel said. ‘One of my biggest worries was that in Dunedin I knew it was going to be cold, so I was wondering if my muscles would recover.
‘For me to break that mental barrier was quite pleasing and now I can put those things to rest and just focus on cricket,’ he said. ‘All those demons that were on my mind, I managed to control it and get through it. I have that peace of mind that I can play Tests again.’
Morkel was told by doctors that he might not play Test cricket again, and it took a great amount of determination and mental strength to get over the hurdles he experienced during his rehabilitation.
‘In the back of my mind, I didn’t believe it,’ he said.
‘The main issue was that my lower core was weak and in a way I needed to rewire my body,’ he explained. ‘I had so many bad movements mechanically with my body that created tension and inflammation, and had a massive bulge in the top of the core which caused spasms. I needed to find a way to relax my upper core, so my lower core could work. I need to take a lot of responsibility now, to look after my body. I need to manage my load with cricket outside the South African season and just be clever with that,’ Morkel said.
As a result, Morkel withdrew himself from the 2017 IPL auction.
‘Because I haven’t played any cricket for South Africa for so long, if I put my name in the auction, it would have been frowned upon, plus we have a series in England. I thought if I do well in this New Zealand series, then I’ve got four weeks at home to get strong. For me that was the important thing: to get myself fit for South Africa,’ Morkel said.
Morkel will experience positive flashbacks on his return to Wellington. The Basin Reserve is the ground where Morkel picked his best figures of 6-23 in South Africa’s tour to New Zealand in 2012, and he will look to channel the nostalgia into his performance in the second Test.
‘I need to play to my strengths. I need to bowl an intimidating length and get the guys on the back foot and try and strike from there. It’s about the intensity that I bowl with and to have body language. It’s about reading the situation and knowing when to go fuller.’
The second Test will start on 16 March.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images