Albie Morkel played 56 ODIs for South Africa between 2004 and 2012 but never played in a World Cup, so he identified with the struggles of Chris Morris to make it to CWC 2019 in England and has added his voice to those calling for the Titans all-rounder to play a big role in the Proteas’ campaign.
Morris received a late reprieve from the selectors when fast bowler Anrich Nortje fractured a hand, and with Dale Steyn still on his way back from a shoulder injury – he bowled briefly in the nets at The Oval on Tuesday but only off a short run-up – there is a chance the 32-year-old all-rounder could be in the starting line-up for the tournament opener against England in London on Thursday.
Steyn not ready for opener
Confirmation of Dale Steyn’s unavailability for selection came from coach Ottis Gibson shortly after the practice ended on Tuesday.
Steyn hasn’t bowled a competitive over since his recall from the IPL after his second game for the Bangalore Royal Challengers five weeks ago, following a flare-up in the condition of his right shoulder, which kept him out of the game for 14 months.
The 35-year-old only bowled off a short run-up on Tuesday and did not bowl for long before doing some batting work.
“Dale is not quite ready although he is not far away. It’s a six-week tournament so there’s no need to force the issue, he will possibly be ready by the India game on June 5. We believe he will be okay soon,” Gibson said.
“With Chris Morris now going to the World Cup, he can solve the problem of whether to strengthen the batting or make sure the bowling is strong at the expense of another batsman. He’s the type of guy that has x-factor, I know he has struggled a bit for form in the last year, but we know what he can do. He can go and win games if you just allow him to be Chris Morris.
“The South African team needs him and I could feel his pain when he wasn’t initially chosen because I played between World Cups as well. I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to prove people wrong. He would have been in my World Cup squad from the start,” Morkel said.
With Steyn’s injury problems messing with the desired balance of the side, it is a relief for the Proteas that Hashim Amla has struck form in the two warm-up games, with Morkel saying it is the batting that concerns him most in terms of the South African campaign.
“We have a fantastic bowling line-up but the batting unit over the last 15 months just hasn’t clicked. Until the last minute we didn’t know who the openers were going to be, so it’s not a settled combination. But the guys up top have been going well in the warm-ups, so they could click and then we can get going in the tournament. I always have my Proteas cap on my head and in my heart, but I hope we can make the last four.
“I think we’re a bit behind to be honest: England in England are always very good, India will be there as well. I think Australia will make it with David Warner and Steven Smith back, and then there’s South Africa and New Zealand who I think will be fighting it out for the last place in the World Cup final four. We’re going in as underdogs, but previously we’ve been favourites and we didn’t get far, so there is less pressure,” Morkel said.