Morne Morkel described it as his best day on a cricket field as he spearheaded South Africa’s surge to one of their biggest victories in Test cricket, hammering Australia by 322 runs on the fourth day of the third Test at Newlands on Sunday.
Morkel claimed five for 23 as the Australian batting line-up were shot out for just 107, losing their last 10 wickets for just 50 runs. In what will probably be his penultimate game of Test cricket before retirement, Morkel claimed the best match figures in his 85-Test career, finishing with nine for 110 and the man of the match award.
“There was just a great buzz out there and personally, Newlands is my best venue, so today was the highlight of my life, definitely the most memorable day of my career,” Morkel said after South Africa’s second biggest win in terms of runs over Australia and their 10th largest overall.
Even captain Faf du Plessis could not help but be caught up in the moment as the unassuming fast bowler with 300 Test wickets recently acquired took centre stage.
“Our cricket takes all the glory and the shine, especially the personal performances, and Morne was the best of those. I will always remember this as being one of the sweetest days of his career,” Du Plessis said.
However deflated the tourists were after their ball-tampering scandal , the Proteas captain said his team used a strategy of strangulation to perfection against an Australian side that collapsed in a heap.
“There are no buts for me, it was an amazing achievement, the way we applied pressure and all facets of our game were good and solid. It was about motivating the players to just apply more and more pressure, to tighten the screw and give Australia no breathing space.
“I felt we were very calm under pressure, we got through some difficult times, but you could see the pressure got to them today. Away from the game there’s been a lot of pressure and we wanted them to feel that that pressure was not going anywhere. The guys were very pumped up,” Du Plessis said.