South Africa have some serious firepower in their pace artillery. The likes of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada render bowling a joy to behold. The latest addition of Chris Morris has only strengthened the pace battery further providing options. South Africa have been a force to reckon in Test format in the recent times, winning four back-to-back Test series and their pace attack have played a huge role behind this success. They have a healthy competition with the presence of impactful bowlers.
Morkel is amazing to watch with ball In hand; his intimidating stature creates a threat in batsmen’s mind. For the fact that, he can generate awkward bounce from nowhere and take a batsman by surprise. Morkel is a skilful bowler and his forte is not just bounce but menacing speed and control. In Test cricket, very few things are as amazing as fast bowling to watch. And Morkel certainly falls in that bracket of fast bowlers.
In the ongoing series, Morne Morkel has been South Africa’s most successful bowler so far, scalping 12 wickets in five innings at a healthy average of 27. He has been the silent assassin in the side and has played his part well. The pace battery has been well led by Vernon Philander but Morkel has fared well with the new ball. He opened the bowling on all five occasions in the series and lived up to the expectations. But his performance often got overshadowed by his teammates.
Morkel had a prolific outing at Lords, where he was among the wickets. South Africa did almost everything right with the ball in the first innings except giving Joe Root few reprieves, which cost them massively. Morkel accounted for four English wickets and it could have been easily five had he kept some part of his foot behind the line when Ben Stokes was cleaned up with a beauty. In the second innings, Morkel got rid of England’s top-order. He accounted for three wickets in the innings and finished the game with seven scalps to his name, conceding 179.
South Africa then made a solid comeback at Trent Bridge and one of the key reasons behind this comeback was their bowling. In the first innings, South Africa gained a massive lead after bowling England out for 205. Morkel had the prized wicket of Joe Root and Keaton Jennings in his basket. Although he went wicketless in the second innings but other bowlers got the job done and helped South Africa square the series.
At The Oval, Morkel went wicketless on Day 1 when England were four men down at stumps. But on Day 2, Morkel accounted for three out of the remaining six. At first, he trapped Alastair Cook leg before on 88. Moeen Ali got a slight inside edge on to the pads, which carried to Quinton de Kock behind the stumps. It was initially given not out but the decision was reversed after South Africa opted to review this one. Ben Stokes played an innings filled with composure to rescue the English innings. Eventually, Morkel got the better of southpaw on 112 and finished with 3 for 70. Most importantly, Vernon Philander didn’t bowl after his first spell on Day 2 due to some serious trouble in his stomach but Morkel and Rabada did well.
Morkel is in the twilight of his career but looks like he has a lot of cricket left in him. He was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, “For me, every time I get the ball, it’s about really enjoying the moment. In the past I put myself under a lot of pressure, but I think those sort of days are gone. I know how quickly a career can change. And I’m not starting my career. My career’s nearly finished. So I am enjoying the moment. ”
Morkel is certainly enjoying the moment and South Africa would want him to continue in a similar fashion as long as he can. As of now, Morkel has a massive task in hand as South Africa were precariously placed at 127 for 8 at stumps on Day 2 and are still trailing by 227 runs. Temba Bavuma and Morkel are at thie crease and have a mountain to climb on Day 3. South Africa need to step up and bring their best game out in order to bounce back from this juncture. South Africa’s primary target will be to avoid the follow-on and then try to get as close as possible to England’s total.