Albie Morkel’s return from the T20 wilderness back into the glare of the world stage owes as much to his current form as him being the most experienced player on the planet in the sport’s shortest format.
Morkel, 32, was thought to be out of contention at the end of the last World T20 tournament in Sri Lanka 18 months ago but, having not been part of the initial provisional squad of 30, his inclusion has now set him up for an important role at the tournament, starting in Bangladesh next month.
“He’s played a lot on the sub-continent and done well and his recent domestic form just made it easy for us to include him in the squad,” national selection convener Andrew Hudson said yesterday.
Morkel has participated in 253 matches around the world. Seventy-eight of those matches were in the Indian Premier League where he was an important cog in the Chennai Super Kings outfit – by some way the most successful domestic T20 team in the world.
Morkel scored 202 runs for the Titans in the RamSlam T20 Challenge and, while he only picked up two wickets, his economy rate of 7.20 meant he provided sufficient control for the Titans when bowling.
Previously South Africa have battled with how to get the best out of Morkel. Often he’s been left too much to do in too little time.
However the national side’s coach, Russell Domingo, says the recent success for the side – they’ve won five out of nine matches in the last year, including four victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan in conditions very similar to Bangladesh – has instilled confidence, and provided clarity over the way they want to play, particularly with the bat.
“We’ve wanted a stable top six, which is what we’ve got in the last year, our batting has been as consistent as it’s ever been,” said Domingo.
Beuran Hendricks’ inclusion is not surprising given his record in this season’s RamSlam – 28 wickets for the Cape Cobras at an economy rate of 7.08. Not only does he swing the ball, he does so at great pace and is an excellent “death” bowler, an area in which South Africa have encountered problems.
Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso have been picked as frontline spinners, with Tahir a likely starter owing to his success on the sub-continent – he took 14 wickets at an average of 10.71 at the 50-over World Cup record in 2011.
South Africa start their campaign on March 22 against Sri Lanka in Chittagong. New Zealand and England are the other teams in the group while one team will join them from a pre-tournament qualifying event.
SA squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morné Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. – The Star