DURBAN - Morne Morkel walked into his local grocery store in Cape Town for the last time over the weekend, and the staff - staunch cricket fans - recognised that the moment may not occur for a while yet, and duly obliged him with a ‘guard of honour’ of their own.
They have grown accustomed to the lanky fast bowler loping in with his energetic toddler son, to do the weekly shop for the house. Morkel, as was confirmed by Surrey on Tuesday, has taken up a two-year Kolpak deal with the London county, and he jetted off to the English capital last night.
“I am really looking forward to this next chapter of my life,” Morkel said on the weekend.
“There is also the option for a third year, and I will be available for all formats. It is a great city to live in, and I am hoping to settle in nicely at a great club with a lot of history,” he added.
Morkel also explained why the deal had to take the much-maligned Kolpak route, and reiterated that he had no interest in getting an English cap in future.
“I think my chances of playing for England - even if there was time - would be slim to none! I think I might have got Andrew Strauss once too many times for that to happen,” he quipped.
“But, in all seriousness, I had to sign a Kolpak deal in order for the club to continue their business with other guys who could be signed as overseas players. County cricket is a nice challenge, and I hope to add to the success that Surrey has had over the past few years.”
Morkel is also aware that he could cross swords with Dale Steyn (Hampshire deal) in the midst of the English summer. Along with the likes of Kyle Abbott and now Morkel, Steyn will form part of a growing batch of South African speedsters prowling the English countryside.
So the sun came up and life is moving on but I’m still holding on to one of the highlights of my life. thanks for all the support and messages.. pic.twitter.com/AymIFkG6YE
“Yeah, I know that Dale is really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, and I am hoping that all goes well with his comeback. It hasn’t been easy for him sitting on the side for that long, because he still really wants to contribute for South Africa.”
Morkel said there was no unwritten agreement to keep the aggression civil between the fast men, should they meet in the middle.
“Yeah, that will be interesting. The last time I faced Dale in a match, he pitched everything up to me. I swung at the first two balls and missed, and then got bowled on the third one! I suppose he will remember that, and probably keep the ball in my half. We haven’t even discussed an agreement,” he smiled.
Morkel left his international career on a real high, helping the Proteas to a historic, 3-1 series triumph over Australia.
He topped 300 Test wickets in his career, with over 200 international appearances across formats for his country.
His next target will be going beyond 500 first-class scalps. Currently, the 33 year-old sits on 459 wickets, from 126 matches.