SA in New Zealand
Morkel: Off-time good for team
Wellington - The Proteas’ time off after their nine-wicket win inside three days in Hamilton has served them well, as they prepare for the final challenge of the tour starting at the Basin Reserve on Friday.
Finishing an otherwise satisfactory tour on a positive note is high on the agenda for Gary Kirsten and the Proteas, who arrived in Wellington recovered, revitalised and refreshed for one last push in the final match of the seven-week tour.
“We want to go out and focus on our processes, New Zealand will be going out to level the series,” Morne Morkel said at the team’s training session at the Westpac Stadium’s indoor facilities. “Being one-nil up does put us in a more comfortable position but it is important for us to close off the series very well and the guys are focused on ending off a great tour for us.”
The congested scheduling during a tour seldom gives the cricketers time off, making the two days off a rare luxury, which was well spent by exploring some of New Zealand’s renowned landmarks including Lake Taupo, the snow-capped mountains in Queenstown as well as the bustling metropolis and harbour in Auckland.
“International cricket can sometimes get to you on a mental and demanding side, that is why in a way it was a blessing in disguise that we had two days extra to explore New Zealand a little bit. That break was good for me and the team from a mental aspect. The good thing is that Gary (Kirsten) has played the game before, he understands what the guys go through so at the moment it is working out beautifully within our squad.”
The players have been confined to the indoor facilities because of the adverse weather conditions, which have threatened to disrupt the match as rain and strong winds wreak havoc on New Zealand’s north island.
“It makes it quite tough not being able to be outside, especially since its (indoors) completely different to the conditions that we will be up against. At least we get the opportunity to break into a sweat and to get out of the hotel for a little bit. But we need to just deal with what we have been dealt with.”
The wickets-column may not suggest a particularly successful Test series for Morkel, however his impact has been felt by the home team’s batsmen who have been unsettled by his pace in the 150 km/h region and bounce which have worked in his favour. He had to adapt to a new role definition after Vernon Philander’s immediate and remarkable success with the new ball pushed Graeme Smith to use him as his first-change bowler, a job description he has learnt to understand and more importantly, enjoy.
“I am far more consistent in my area, I’m really happy with the way that the ball is coming out at the moment. Unfortunately on the wickets side I haven’t picked up a bag full of wickets but I think I’m happy with the job I have done as first-change bowler, like keeping the pressure on. I’m quite happy with where I am at the moment.”