Morné happy with mental game

2014-07-23 05:00
Morné Morkel (Gallo Images)

Colombo - It was back to the office for the Proteas on Tuesday after a rest and travel day on Monday but, as George Orwell said in Animal Farm, some animals were more equal than others – or more busy.

Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, who claimed 16 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets during the Proteas 153-run victory in Galle on Sunday, would probably not have been allowed to bowl in the nets if they had wanted to, reports the website.

"I’m quite happy with how the ball is coming out of my hand, so the most important thing for me is rest and recovery," Morkel said in the aftermath of the test.

"I’ll turn my arm over on the day before the test but mostly it’s going to be sorting my body out – I have a couple of blisters I need to attend to, so it’s going to be feet up mostly with some pool time and a bit of light running, but no heavy net sessions," Morkel said.

Both men were present at nets but it was more a question of moral support and, in Morkel’s case, an early inspection of the wicket.

It looked, unsurprisingly, a batsman’s pleasure.

But if Galle’s infamously slow pitch could be overcome by the two quick men, then the Sinhalese Sports Club should hold no fears.

"It’s quite tough when the ball is soft and the wicket is slow, but that’s what it is – you just have to deal with it,"' Morkel said.

"It’s one thing getting the first ten wickets but the second ten is the most important so for me to come back and support Dale, and get a few wickets in the right hand column, it felt really good.

"It was hard work on a flat wicket but taking 20 wickets is a special feeling.”

It was a toss up between Kumar Sangakkara’s wicket in the first innings of that of Mahela Jayawardene in the second, but the fact that he claimed both of the home side’s ‘big guns’ made his match haul of 7-78 even more memorable.

"It’s nice when we discuss plans to take the key wickets and they work out. Mahela is a quality player and, along with Kumar, they are very important wickets – along with Angelo at the back of the innings - they can all take the game away from us.

"It was important that we put some heat on the first two in the middle order and luckily we got the rewards."

Steyn and Morkel, along with Vernon Philander, looked strong throughout the match – which was deliberate, even if they weren’t feeling as good as they looked.

"The conditions can take a bit of the battery life out of you, but the key for us bowlers is to have strong body language because it not only lifts the guys in the field, but the Sri Lankan batsmen waiting to come in can see that the fast bowlers are fired up and it sends a strong message.

"The physical challenge is important but so is the mental preparation, that’s what I try hard to focus on, getting that aspect right.

"Physical stuff you can tweak but if you’re not mentally strong in these conditions then you’re going to struggle bowling to quality players.

"So that’s where I’ll be focussing in the next few days…"

Read more on:    proteas  |  sa in sl  |  morne morkel  |  cricket

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