Colin Bryden

Morkel - a waste of talent

2009-12-04 08:32
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden

The axing of Albie Morkel is one of the mysteries of this stop-start cricket season.

I don’t hold a particular brief for Morkel and I can understand if there is a certain amount of frustration among the Proteas’ management about his failure to impose himself as a bowler.

But the elder Morkel brother remains one of the cleanest strikers of a cricket ball in world cricket. His talents have not been used properly.

At the beginning of the England series there was talk from the South African camp that Morkel’s fate was in his own hands.

I interpreted that as meaning that he would either have to show that he could justify a place as a genuine all-rounder – or that he would have to take more responsibility with the bat.

To me, that meant he should be treated as a proper batsman, not just someone who came in for the slog overs at the end of an innings.

Yet when there was an ideal opportunity for Morkel to show his worth, with South Africa stumbling at 131 for four in the second ODI at Centurion it was Ryan McLaren who walked out at number six.

McLaren scratched about for 13 balls while scoring five runs while the better part of six overs drifted by.

Morkel batted at seven and also failed, making six off 12 balls before being caught on the boundary.

After yet another undistinguished bowling effort, Morkel was dropped for the next match.

It seems the Proteas only want Morkel to bat during the batting power play overs. Why, though, don’t they give the man the chance to play himself in by giving him responsibility at number six? Imagine if the power play came along when Morkel had already scored 40 or 50 and was seeing the ball like a balloon. The spectators would be in danger.

Back in August 2007, Morkel batted at number three against Zimbabwe and made 97 off 104 balls. In first-class cricket and in his only Test appearance, in which he made a stylish 58, Morkel has shown he is a real batsman.

Since then he has played in 34 ODIs. In 10 of those matches he didn’t bat at all. He batted at number eight 10 times, at number seven in eight matches and at six on five occasions, always when the innings was in or approaching the last ten overs. Only once did he bat at five, coming in against Australia in Port Elizabeth last season when South Africa had already piled up 223 runs in 38.3 overs.

Making best use of his talent? I don’t think so.

Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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