Morne Morkel has expressed his delight at reaching 300 Test wickets for the Proteas.
The Proteas were criticised for bringing in Morkel to replace Lungi Ngidi, but critics were answered with a magnificent bowling display from the lanky speedster.
Morkel’s four-for pushed the hosts into the driver’s seat, but once again the Proteas failed to find the killer blow, as Australia managed to creep to 245-9 by the close of play.
Despite failing to bundle out the visitors, the spotlight was on Morkel’s achievement which saw him become the fifth South African bowler to reach the 300-wicket mark.
‘It’s a special feeling, especially because I’m the world record holder for the most no balls. When I got the first one I had to turn around to see if it was a legal delivery, the second one and third one [too]. To eventually reach it was something I worked for a long time and to do it at this amazing venue made it even better.’
Ngidi kept Morkel out of the second Test, which prolonged the veteran’s race to the milestone. He addressed being left out in the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
‘Definitely, you think about those kinds of things, especially with Lungi and the guys playing so well,’ he said when asked whether he thought the end was near. ‘Luckily for me, I got the opportunity with Lungi picking up a niggle and I knew this was my Test match to do it.
‘I put a lot of hard work in over the week. In PE, I sat down for hours and analysed my Durban spells to see what I could improve on and worked hard. I’m glad I got the reward today.’
Morkel finished with 4-87 and explained what he did well.
‘I spoke to AB and to Dean to asked them what was tough to play and then went out to try and execute that which was very important. There was a little extra bounce on a first-stump line,’ he added. ‘It was my game plan to hit that area quite hard to try get that extra bit of bounce. There were a few cracks as well and I managed to land the ball in a couple of those good areas to get those wickets.’
Australia coach Darren Lehmann congratulated Morkel for his great career.
‘It’s a great achievement for Morne. He has been a great bowler over a long period of time and we congratulate him for 300.
‘We would like him not to have 300 now, but he’s been a fantastic bowler for South Africa over the years and he bowled really well today and got key wickets early, which he has done his whole career,’ said Lehmann.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images