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
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
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
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
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.
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