Cape Town - Proteas paceman, Morne Morkel, has stepped up to the responsibility of potentially leading the attack in the third Test match against India starting in Nagpur on Wednesday. The absence of Vernon Philander and the uncertainty around Dale Steyn (whose availability will be known on Tuesday) means Morkel will marshal a young attack tasked with helping the Proteas level the four-match series.
The spinners may have grabbed the headlines with their performances after two matches, but Morkel believes the fast bowlers also have an important role to play despite the placid conditions. The lanky bowler says achieving success on the sub-continent as a fast bowler comes down to small margins and a change of mind-set, especially in conditions where opportunities are scarce.
“Coming here as a fast bowler we weren’t expecting favours, we knew that the wickets would turn,” Morkel said in Nagpur on Monday. “For us, mental preparation was always going to be key, especially bowling well with a reverse-swinging ball. That has been the big strength for us over the last couple of years and that is how we achieved success in India in the past.
“Personally for me it’s about bowling well with the guy at the other end,” he explained. “ If we are bowling well in partnerships then I’m doing my job. If I can keep the pressure on the batsmen while the spinners are toiling away then I will be happy with that. In the same breath I will also be looking to get one or two (wickets) myself. If we can control our game plans and execute that well we can leave the field at the end of the day with our heads held up high.”
The last time the Proteas walked off the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in a Test match five years ago, their heads were deservedly held high after an innings and six-run win against India, but looking ahead to Wednesday Morkel feels it will be important to shelve the nostalgia and to focus on the present task at hand.
“It’s important to take those memories and to put them aside,” he said. “We need to play good disciplined cricket, we need to be tough regardless of what the conditions throw at us, we have to be in a mentally good place. We are the No.1 Test team in the world and we need to show that. Yes the conditions will be tough but somebody needs to put up their hand and take it on.”