Albie Morkel – born to entertain

Albie Morkel. Picture: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images)

Albie Morkel. Picture: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images)

Many feel he never reached his full potential on the international stage but having said that, he hangs up his spikes with a number of wonderful stats to his name.

Titans limited overs cricket captain Albie Morkel this week announced his retirement from a game he served so well for 20 years.

The 37-year-old, who made his first-class debut for Easterns as a matric pupil in 1999, will always be remembered for his medium-pace bowling and power hitting down the order – traits that earned him 50 T20 international caps, 58 one-day international appearances and a solo Test outing.

Many feel he never reached his full potential on the international stage but having said that, he hangs up his spikes with a number of wonderful stats to his name.

He retires with a Test batting average of 58, having only batted once in Test cricket – a 71-ball 58 against Australia at Newlands in 2009. That Test will probably best be remembered – or forgotten if you are an Aussie fan – for another one-Test wonder, Bryce McGain. The leggie, who made his Test debut at the age of 36, finished with figures of 0/149 off 18 overs. To rub salt into his wounds, he made nought and two as they lost by an innings and 20 runs.

But, back to Morkel. His only Test wicket was that of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, caught behind by Mark Boucher for a duck with only the 29th ball he bowled in Test cricket.

In 77 first-class matches, he made eight hundreds, including a double. He took 203 first-class wickets and over 200 wickets in both list A and T20 formats.

When he first burst on the scene as a youngster, he was Easterns’ quickest bowler in a team that also included Andre Nel in the Ray Jennings era. However, a back injury saw him sacrifice pace for accuracy – something that former Indian captain MS Dhoni spotted while representing the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dhoni would often throw the new ball to Morkel to great success. So much so, that he is the only South African to be on the winning end of an IPL final on three occasions.

His younger brother Morne, who played 86 Tests and 117 one-day internationals, put it best when he tweeted: “It feels like yesterday we were 2 boys dreaming in the backyard about the game we love!! Well done on a magnificent career … proud to call you my brother!!”

Many of us are proud to have watched you play cricket.

Trevor Stevens

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