Sri Lanka in SA

Albie: Beware carefree Lanka

2012-01-09 16:13
Albie Morkel (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Despite minimal training opportunity, South Africa need to get out of the blocks quickly in the five-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka, says recalled all-rounder Albie Morkel.

The Proteas lock horns with the tourists in the first ODI at Paarl on Wednesday, with Morkel a late inclusion in the 14-strong squad after intended debutant Dean Elgar withdrew through injury.

Titans favourite Morkel and new cap Rory Kleinveldt of the Cape Cobras fronted a media briefing here on Monday, ironically with both versatile customers possibly duelling for one slot in the team for Boland Park.

The former clearly has the edge in explosive hitting ability, although both can smack a long and high ball with gusto, while Kleinveldt probably brings greater security, not to mention superior local knowledge, on the seam bowling front ... much will depend on the balance of the side the wise men opt for in the opener.

Both are keen to re-establish themselves in international limited-overs cricket, considering that Morkel has suffered various ailments this summer to delay his personal comeback quest and Kleinveldt was dropped in mid-2010 after two Twenty20 caps.

Morkel warned that South Africa ideally didn’t want to be playing “catch-up cricket” in the series, despite most of the players coming straight out of a Test match or, in cases like his, SuperSport Series activity and thus not being in a perfect limited-overs groove.

“They are a nation with a bit of a carefree spirit, if you like. They play with plenty of flair, and they’ve added a couple of one-day specialists (following the Test series) now, like Lasith Malinga, (Nuwan) Kulasekara and the spinner (Ajantha) Mendis.”

He admitted that he had “gone back and forth” in selection terms for the Proteas “through injury, lack of form and so on”.

“Your mental attitude is important - you could just give up when you lose your place or decide to go and play elsewhere. From a personal point of view when I go back (to franchise cricket) it’s with the attitude of really wanting to be a senior player at the Titans.

“I know that when I perform there, people will look at the results.

“I had earmarked this as a big season. Then I go and miss half of it through a stupid appendix problem that wasn’t even cricket-related! That was frustrating.”

He had also pulled out of the national squad which tackled Australia in two Twenty20 internationals in late spring, due to a stomach muscle injury.

Morkel said he was confident his Titans colleague AB de Villiers would shine in his new leadership role for the Proteas.

“He’ll do a great job. He’s on top of his own game and that’s very important in a leader. He won’t change his style.

“I know him pretty well: we stayed together when we were youngsters; he was a naughty boy but since then he’s grown up a lot.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops as captain. He’s learnt from the best: Graeme (Smith) did a fantastic job and with (Jacques) Kallis also still there it will aid him a lot. He’s the right man for it.”

Kleinveldt cautioned that the Paarl pitch might well retain its featherbed tendencies.

“We played a four-day game there (after Christmas, against the Warriors) and it was typical old Paarl ... pretty flat, slow and low.

“But during the 1-Day Cup we managed to chase down 260 or 280 with some overs to spare against the Knights and the pitch played well; the batsmen played their shots and there was something for the bowlers if you hit a good line and length.

“If it plays the same way, then 280 or even 290 would be a good total batting first.”

The match starts at 14:30 on Wednesday.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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