ICC World Twenty20

Proteas still sweat over Albie

2012-09-20 10:24
Albie Morkel (Gallo)
Cape Town – Assuming it is feasible, South Africa could do a lot worse than risk playing all-rounder Albie Morkel as a batsman only in their ICC World Twenty20 opener against Zimbabwe at Hambantota (16:00 our time) even if there are any ongoing concerns about his ability to bowl.

GALLERY: Proteas train for ICC World Twenty20

His state of readiness for the southern African “derby” was unclear at the time of writing, although EWN Sport on the Cape Talk radio station issued a tweet on Thursday quoting team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee as saying: “Fortunately everyone has recovered (after a virus swept through the camp earlier in the week) ... we just now have to do one more test on (Morkel).”

When the Proteas played a warm-up match against New Zealand earlier this week – they won it by nine runs – Morkel broke down with back spasms after bowling nine deliveries in the Black Caps’ chase, but he had earlier bludgeoned 15 not out off just four balls at the climax of the South African innings.

That is exactly the sort of striking you need toward the finish, and if there is a chance that Morkel will be fit enough to bat and field sufficiently only, then perhaps he is worth risking even in that more restricted capacity.

In the likely line-up they will put out against the Zimbabwean underdogs, if Morkel is able to be stationed at No 7 (though obviously flexible according to situation) there ought to still be more than enough bowling options available to captain AB de Villiers without Morkel’s seam fare.

Frontline pace duty will no doubt be in the hands of Dale Steyn and Morkel’s younger brother Morne, with primary spin from the in-form alliance of Johan Botha and Robin Peterson.

But there is also veteran Jacques Kallis to chip in four overs of his renowned “heavy balls” if need be, plus part-time extra spin options from JP Duminy and Justin Ontong, assuming the last-named player is pencilled in for the intended No 6 berth.

If there is one thing the modern Proteas limited-overs side slightly lacks, it is long-ball hitters down their order; they will look even more vulnerable in that department if Morkel is not available to the cause.

While it is true that the older Morkel, 31, has not always delivered tornado performances with the blade as regularly as the Proteas would like, his ability is beyond doubt and he has plentiful knowledge of Subcontinent pitches through his stellar feats in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings over several campaigns.

If he is not deemed fit enough to be considered at all for the XI against Zimbabwe – the red-shirted minnows will bow out of the tournament early if they lose – Wayne Parnell or Faf du Plessis will probably deputise, depending on which man’s skills are deemed more useful on the day.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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