Morkel, 33, cited a demanding international schedule and the strain it put on his young family as the reason for his surprising announcement. “It was an extremely tough decision but I feel the time is right to start a new chapter,” he stated in a Cricket South Africa (CSA) release. “I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding international schedule has put a lot of strain us. I have to put them first and this decision will only benefit us going forward.
“I have loved every minute that I have played in the Proteas jersey, and I am incredibly grateful to my teammates, Cricket South Africa, and my family and friends for the support over the years. I still feel there is a lot of cricket left in me and I am excited for what lies ahead. For now, all of my energy and focus is on helping the Proteas win the upcoming series against Australia.”
Morkel’s 83-match Test journey, as of now, started in Durban in 2006 against India, when he returned 3/86 in the first innings in a South Africa win, including the wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Morkel has since gone on to pick 294 scalps in the format, including a career-best 6/23 against New Zealand in Wellington in 2012, and is the fifth-highest wicket-taker for South Africa in Test cricket. He will have a chance to reach and exceed the 300-mark against Australia.
Morkel also has 188 wickets in 117 one-day internationals, and 47 in 44 Twenty20 Internationals, making for a combined tally of 529 wickets in international cricket. He is expected to continue being available for domestic and franchise cricket.
Thabang Moroe, CSA’s Acting chief executive, praised Morkel’s contribution to South Africa cricket. “He has been a regular selection for both the Standard Bank Proteas Test and ODI squads since 2008, having made his debut as far back as 2006,” he said. “He has formed part of the golden era of fast bowlers that have made the South African Test team a champion outfit that is respected throughout the world.
“Being a champion fast bowler is one of the most difficult professions in the sporting world. It requires tremendous skill, dedication and perseverance and, by no means least, the courage to bowl through the pain barrier at times. Those are characteristics Morne has shown throughout his career.
“Lastly, on behalf of the South African cricket family, our stakeholders and fans around the world, we thank Morne for being both a fine player and an outstanding role model who has made our country proud. We wish him everything of the best in his future endeavors.”
First Published: February 26, 2018, 6:22 PM IST