Morne Morkel feels like he’s getting closer to his best, after his 3-18 against Pakistan on Wednesday kept them in the game.
In a game of few positives from a South African perspective, seeing Morkel dig in to the Pakistan top order on a slow pitch, comfortably topped the list.
Wayne Parnell was struggling to find his lengths, and not even Kagiso Rabada could find answers to debutant Fakhar Zaman’s gutsy approach. But as he did in the match against Sri Lanka, Morkel struck in the first over of his spell.
He saw off the dangerous Niroshan Dickwella in that over against Sri Lanka on Saturday. On Wednesday, not only did he see off Zaman, but he accounted for Azhar Ali in the same over. On a slower deck, he managed to get enough bounce to trouble the openers, who otherwise had looked comfortable up to that point.
Morkel is only just easing his way back into the side, after spending a considerable amount of time on the sidelines last year with back issues.
‘The more I bowl, the better I get,’ Morkel tells SACricketmag.com. ‘It’s getting there. I haven’t bowled a lot of overs [on this tour], so to get out there and do something with the ball was a really good opportunity to stand up.’
‘The last eight months have been difficult,’ he continues. ‘But I’m quite happy with how my body is feeling at the moment.’
Morkel wasn’t a shoo-in for the first XI going into this tournament. In fact, his inclusion in the Champions Trophy squad was far from guaranteed at all.
Over the course of the year the selectors have favoured three all-rounders in the side, with Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius moving in and out of the side with each game. After Morkel’s performances from the first two matches, the only selection debate now is seemingly whether to pick Panell or Phehlukwayo.
‘We have to block those sort of things out,’ Morkel says. ‘The team has done exceptionally well. We’ve become the No 1 side with those all-rounders, so it’s just a matter of waiting for my turn. Luckily things are going well at the moment.’
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