JOHANNESBURG – Albie Morkel’s retirement, announced yesterday, ends of one of the more peculiar high profile careers in South African cricket.
Seemingly blessed with all the attributes to make it as an international cricketer, Morkel could, however, never maintain a spot in the national team, whether that be as a result of injuries or his own inconsistent form.
On his day, no one hit the ball harder or further in South African cricket. He was an outstanding fielder, with terrific hands and his bowling was of the uncanny variety - never quick enough to make a batsman hop about, but with changes of pace and cutters he could flummox them.
Morkel, 37, played one Test against Australia in 2009, 58 ODIs and 50 T20 Internationals - his international career spanning 11 years in total. He was never able to cement a spot in the Proteas side, and given his limited overs prowess it is incredible that he wasn’t picked for a 50 over World Cup squad.
Arguably his most influential series for the Proteas was during the hugely successful 2008/09 Tour of Australia where he finished as Man of the Series in a 4-1 triumph in the ODIs for South Africa.
As T20 cricket took hold, especially in India, Morkel became one of that format’s original stars. No South African has played more than his 318 T20 matches, a figure that puts him in the top 10 world wide.
He was a central figure in the Chennai Super Kings’ success in the IPL, twice helping them win the tournament in 2010 and 2011.
At domestic level in South Africa few can match the silverware he helped bring the way of the Titans across all formats.
His sole Test appearance came as a replacement for his younger brother Morne, and he had reasonable success, scoring 58, and claiming the wicket of Ricky Ponting in Australia’s first innings.
“The last 20 years of my life took me on an incredible journey, with so many awesome memories that I will cherish forever,” he said in a statement.
“Plenty of memories, good and bad, but I was blessed with a long career,” Morkel added on twitter.@shockerhess