With curtains drawn on the Test series between South Africa and Australia, it was time for Morne Morkel to bid adieu to international cricket. The former Proteas pacer, who picked up career-best figures of 9 for 110 in the third Test, said he’ll miss playing in front of his home crowd the most.
“When you play in front of your home crowd, like Newlands and here for the first couple of days, it is amazing,” he said. “Those are the sort of things I’m going to miss a lot. I’m really going to miss the banter in the change room, but I’m also excited for the new guy that’s going to come into the team and enjoy this journey, it’s a really special journey.
“A lot of guys say they don’t miss the game, but I’m definitely going to miss it. Not one day did I not enjoy coming to the nets and warm-ups … I enjoyed everything. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss it. I still have a love of the game.”
Morkel's favorite game is from Australia tour 2008-09 when South Africa beat the Aussies for the first time since re-admission.
“As a youngster, I watched cricket and saw that South Africa had a tough time overseas. When we beat Australia the first time and (Jacques) Kallis was crying on the bus, you sort of realised what it meant,” he said. “To be part of that and create a team culture and identity with Graeme Smith as our leader and with Gary (Kirsten), that for me was very special. Since then walking onto the field for South Africa was unbelievable so that was a big turnaround for me in my international career.”
Morkel, who ended fifth on the list of South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-takers with 309 Test scalps, called 2015 World Cup a lowlight in his career. “Lowlights … there have been plenty,” he said. “I need to thank you guys for 12 years of writing. There have been a couple of mornings when I’d wake up and look at the paper and I thought ‘wait until I see you guys in the street.’
“That’s probably the reason why I played for 12 years. I wanted to get better every time and I wanted to prove people wrong. I remember it (2015 World Cup) like yesterday. I had that ease in my heart that (Dale) Steyn would do it and then the way Grant (Elliott) took the game away … The body is still good for one more World Cup but unfortunately, I won’t be on that bus.”
In Johannesburg, Morkel came on to with extensive strapping around his midriff and dismissed Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns, the Australia openers.
“It was very important to be on the field; I wanted to be on the field,” he said. “I asked the doc what is the worst that can happen and I was happy to do it. I knew once I started bowling if I let the oblique muscle cool down I would be in trouble. Funny enough, I was landing the ball better than normal.”
South Africa beat Australia by a massive 492-run margin in the fourth Test to claim the series 3-1.
(With Wisden India Input)