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After months of speculation regarding his future, Morne Morkel cleared the air this week and confirmed that the 33-year-old will be hanging up his boots following the conclusion of the test series with Australia. Morkel made his international debut way back in 2006 against India and has since gone on to play 83 test matches for the Proteas. As the pacer announces closes in on his retirement, we shall look at the 5 best bowling spells by Morkel in his 12-year-long illustrious career.
It was earlier believed that Morkel would play till the 2019 World Cup in England, however, the fast bowler has decided that the time is right to leave the game and focus on his family, which he has missed out on due to the gruelling international schedule.
Morne Morkel said, “I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding international schedule has put a lot of strain us. I have to put them first and this decision will only benefit us going forward.” The 6 ft 5 in bowler has picked up 294 wickets in test matches and 188 wickets in ODI cricket in a career spanning over a decade.
Here are the 5 best bowling performances of Morne Morkel’s illustrious career:
1.) 3/39 and 4/59 vs England in 2009/2010
Trailing England in a 4 match test series at home, South Africa had all to do going into the 4th and final test match at Johannesburg. However, what followed was a complete rout by the home side as Morne Morkel supported by Dale Steyn ripped through the English line-up not once but twice and prevented them crossing 200 in both the innings.
In the end, the Proteas secured a win by an innings and 74 runs, much to the delight of 33-year-old Morkel, who had picked up 7 wickets in the whole test match and received the man-of-the-match award for his performance. This might not have been the fiercest spell of bowling in his career but it definitely became the catalyst for South Africa tying the series and preventing an embarrassing defeat.
2.) 5/38 vs New Zealand in 2012
This was Morne Morkel’s first ever 5-wicket haul in ODI cricket and it helped South Africa seal the ODI series win against New Zealand in New Zealand. Batting first New Zealand were pecked back by superb bowling by Steyn and Tsotsobe before Morkel ripped through the New Zealand tail and cleaned up the final 5 wickets of the Kiwis.
Morkel was twice on a hat-trick in this match, with only Tim Southee breaking up his string of wickets. With New Zealand 179/5 in 35 overs, the match was hanging in balance. However, Morkels superb spell at the death restricted the home side to an inadequate 230 runs.
3.) 5/21 vs Australia in 2014
This was probably Morkel’s most deadly spell of bowling in his career, his 5 wickets spread over the complete Australia innings, helped restrict the home side to a total of 154, which in turn was chased by South Africa in just 28 overs.
Needing a win in the match to prevent Australia from taking a 2-0 lead in the series, Morkel produced his career-best spell as he wreaked havoc picking up 5 crucial wickets for just 21 runs. The tall lanky pacer removed David Warner in the 1st over itself which in turn set the tone for the entire match.
4.) 0/54 and 6/23 against New Zealand in 2012
In a match that eventually turned out to be a draw, it was Morkel’s excellent bowling spell in the second innings of the match that put South Africa on the doorsteps of victory. However, despite Morkel picking up all 6 Kiwi wickets in the 2nd innings, it was Williamson who proved to be the biggest roadblock with a brilliant hundred.
Out of the 80 overs bowled in the final innings, Morkel just bowled 16 overs but still managed to pick up a career-best haul of 6 wickets for just 23 runs, an astonishing feat given that the Proteas had the likes of Philander and Steyn in their line-up.
5.) 4/20 vs Afghanistan in 2010
Needing a win to qualify for the super-eights, South Africa were handed a scare in their T20 World Cup group match against Afghanistan as the Proteas were restricted to 139 runs in their 20 overs. However, what would have normally been a very nervous second innings turned into a canter as Morkel and Steyn ripped through the Afghanistan batting line-up and handed their team a 59 run win and a safe passage into the next round of the World Cup.