Morne Morkel has hinted at winding down his ODI career, as he looks to make Test cricket his priority.
In February this year, Morkel admitted that he feared he would never play again after being told that his back injury was too severe to recover from. Yet, after doubting his future, he’s emerged as the Proteas’ most successful bowler this year. In the five Tests he’s played, he’s taken 20 wickets at an average of 27.39 to go with the five wickets he’s taken from four ODIs at 20.39.
It’s been a crucial return to form for the 32-year-old, who has stepped into a senior role in the side in the continued absence of Dale Steyn. While he’s ‘mentally and physically strong’ as he’d like to put it, he admitted in an interview with ESPNCricinfo that he’s not sure if he’ll last as far as the 2019 World Cup, given the players that are emerging through.
‘I don’t know, after this tour we’ll see,’ he said about his future across the formats. ‘I love playing for this team, but it’s not rocket science that they probably want to start looking, in white-ball cricket, at the 2019 World Cup. Am I going to be part of those plans? If I can be around to help the younger guys find their feet, so be it. I’ll do that. For me the main focus is this tour, and then we’ll go back and see how we go.’
While he’s unsure whether he’ll need to pass on the white-ball baton, he says he’s as strong as he’s ever been. He’s maintained the pace and bounce that made him such a vital cog in the Proteas’ pace attack, and the three-pronged unit of Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada is steadily becoming the Proteas’ go-to combination.
He did admit however, as his career reaches the back-end, that he’s thought of getting more involved in the domestic T20 competitions around the world, but it’s refreshing that, for the time being at least, the Proteas remains his sole priority.
‘If there’s a T20 league I can go and play in and improve my skills and put my name into the hat for other tournaments, then I need to make that opportunity count. But the Proteas and this environment come first. So I need to focus on that.’
‘For me, every time I get the ball, it’s about really enjoying the moment. In the past I put myself under a lot of pressure, but I think those sort of days are gone. I know how quickly a career can change. And I’m not starting my career. My career’s nearly finished. So I am just enjoying the moment.’