Johannesburg - The Wanderers pitch may be known for its bounce, but finding the right length, repeatedly, was vital, said Protea fast bowler Morne Morkel in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“Height definitely gives you an advantage with the bounce but finding your rhythm, so you can hit that fuller length consistently, is most important,” Morkel said ahead of Friday’s first Test against Pakistan.
At 6’ 6” (1.98m), Morkel would not be the tallest cricketer on the field as Pakistan boasted that accolade with Mohammad Irfan towering over him at 7’ 1” (2.16m).
“Irfan won’t have had much experience on the quicker, bouncier wickets so it will be interesting to see how he goes,” Morkel said.
“When we tour, it takes us a fair amount of overs to find our feet and adjust to the correct length so it will be the same for Pakistan’s bowling attack as they get used to our conditions.”
Morkel admitted when Pakistan fired on all cylinders, they were hard to beat and the team should not be underestimated.
“When they bring their top game, they’re a very dangerous unit so it’s important we start well with the ball and land the first punch as a bowling unit,” he said.
“We saw how quickly they adapted at this ground in the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup, so we’re expecting a tough challenge and looking forward to it.”
Morkel was confident his side would come up with adequate game plans to counter the Pakistani pace attack as well as off spinner Saeed Ajmal.
“I can’t see the wicket turning too much but Saeed is a quality spin bowler with fantastic skill,” he said.
“Our record against spin is good but Pakistan have a good bowling attack so we need to focus on doing the right things and sticking to the basics. If we can do that well, then any team will struggle against us.”
Pakistan also boasted some experienced batsmen including Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Huq.
Opener Taufeeq Umar was ruled out at the last minute, after failing to recover from a leg injury, and Imran Farhat was confirmed as his replacement.
“They’ve got batsmen who can attack upfront and guys in the middle who can bat time so it will be hard work,” Morkel said.
“They’re and a dangerous team who can counter-punch and fight back so it’s important for us not to relax and keep up the pressure.”
Morkel paid tribute to Graeme Smith, who would be wearing the captain’s armband for the 100th time on Friday.
He said he had nicknamed Smith “The Voice” because when he spoke, everyone stopped what they were doing to listen.
“What people don’t see is the work Graeme does behind the scenes in the change room.
“The way he has helped me with my development and getting me through tough times has been exceptional. As a leader for this team, he has been great and I hope on Friday we get a massive turnout to support him as he really deserves it.”