Morne Morkel is set to join Surrey on a Kolpak deal, according to reports in the British press.
In late February, Morkel announced that he was quitting all forms of international cricket, citing family pressures, but he made it clear he was not finished with the game, saying: ‘I still feel there is a lot of cricket left in me and I am excited for what lies ahead.’
According to The Telegraph, Morkel will play throughout the County Championship as a Kolpak player, which allows him to play as a ‘European’ player. Ironically, he will line up alongside Australia’s Mitchell Marsh, who was signed as the county’s overseas player.
Morkel, who recently took his 300th Test wicket in the series against Australia, will be a significant boost to Surrey’s hopes of winning their first County Championship title since 2002.
He is ranked as the world’s sixth-best Test bowler and recorded match figures of nine for 110 in South Africa’s victory over Australia in the third Test, which ended last week. He has one wicket from the fourth Test, but there is a cloud hanging over his fitness after he was forced to leave the field for treatment for a strain.
Morkel will join the likes of Durban-born Jason Roy at the Kia Oval when the County Championship begins for Surrey on 20 April against Hampshire, where he will be bowling to Hashim Amla, their overseas player, as well as Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, who took Kolpak deals last year.
In quitting South African cricket, Morkel said: ‘I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding international schedule has put a lot of strain us. I have to put them first and this decision will only benefit us going forward.
‘I have loved every minute that I have played in the Proteas jersey, and I am incredibly grateful to my teammates, Cricket South Africa, and my family and friends for the support over the years. I still feel there is a lot of cricket left in me and I am excited for what lies ahead.’