Proteas bowler Morne Morkel. Photo: Andrew Cornaga /

CAPE TOWN - “The JP21 Super Eights Challenge on Sunday will be big part of my rehabilitation programme,” says Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel.

While the lanky seamer may be referring to Proteas teammate JP Duminy’s gala charity event at Val de Vie Estate in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, there is a great deal of truth hidden in Morkel’s words.

Last Sunday was the 33-year-old’s first competitive match since sustaining a grade-two tear of the left abdominal oblique muscle in the first Test against Bangladesh two months ago. It has been a frustrating period on the sidelines because not only was Morkel forced to miss the rest of the Tigers’ tour, but he also had to look on as fellow Proteas seamers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander both returned from injury in the T20 Challenge.

Morkel, though, prefers not to focus too much on what is happening around him, and is instead content that he is suffering no side effects the “morning after”.

“I am just glad to be out on the park again. I have been rehabbing for six/seven weeks. Done lots of training, especially in the nets in Cape Town and I just want to say here a really big thank you to the Cape Cobras and Ashwell Prince for allowing myself and Dale to use the nets for our training,” Morkel said. “I was a little bit nervous coming into Sunday’s game because I had just two ‘proper’ net sessions with (the) Titans, but it all went well and I am feeling zero stiffness which is great.”

Morkel will spend the remainder of the week in Centurion training with the Titans, but will most likely be deemed surplus to requirements for the first semi-final against the Warriors at SuperSpork Park on Wednesday. Instead, he is scheduled to play a three-day game for Easterns at Willowmoore Park over the weekend. While under normal circumstances that would be viewed as more of a chore than a luxury, Morkel is like a child in a candy store.

“I cannot wait. It is an opportunity to bowl long spells and get some real overs in my legs. It is a 104-over day and to be out on my feet for that long will be really great. It will be a really good test of my conditioning. I will also be in the fortunate position of being one of the few bowlers who have actually played first-class cricket in the lead-up to a really long and competitive Test season,” Morkel explained.

Unlike Steyn and AB de Villiers, Morkel hasn’t though been included in the SA Invitational XI to face Zimbabwe in a three-day tour game in Paarl later this month - a match he was “desperately keen” to play in. It could be an indication that Linda Zondi and the rest of the Proteas selection panel are unlikely to call upon the veteran fast bowler for the pink-ball four-day match on Boxing Day at St George’s Park against South Africa’s northern neighbours.

Like Morkel said, though, it is a long Test season with powerhouses India and Australia still to visit these shores for seven much-anticipated battles with the Proteas.

“I am not thinking about it too much in regards to whether I am going to be picked or not going to be picked. That is the selectors’ job. My job is to prepare as best I can to play should I get selected,” he said.

“It is no doubt going to be (a) fantastic series against India. They have been saying a few things in the media about wanting to prove they can play away from home, so it is definitely shaping up to be a good, evenly-contested series. They have batters that score on hard, bouncy pitches and have a good seam attack that has pace and swing. It is all about who plays the conditions best on the day.”

Independent Media is the official media partner for JP21 Super Eights Charity Cricket

Cape Times

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