South Africa's Morne Morkel to retire from international cricket after Australia Test series

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South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel has announced that the upcoming four-Test series against Australia at home will be his last.

The 33-year-old has featured in 83 Tests for South Africa and claimed 294 wickets at an average of 28.08.

The tall right-arm bowler has been a key part of the Proteas pace attack over the last few years – that includes – Dale Steyn, who has been in and out of the side due to injury, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, and Lungi Ngidi lately.

Morkel is expected to be named in the hosts’ team for the first Test against Australia, which begins on March 1 at Kingsmead, Durban.

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England's Mark Wood to undergo scans for ankle soreness

David Clough 26/02/2018
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Mark Wood is to have a scan on his troublesome left ankle after a return of soreness in the joint ruled him out of England’s first one-day international against New Zealand.

England captain Eoin Morgan said after Sunday’s three-wicket defeat against the Kiwis in Hamilton that he remains optimistic the latest problem with the fast bowler’s ankle will not prove serious.

It emerged on Monday, however, that Wood will have a precautionary scan to pinpoint the extent of the injury – with a further update anticipated in the next 24 hours.

The seamer, a surprise absentee at Seddon Park, has previously undergone three operations on his ankle – and was prevented from playing any part in England’s Ashes this winter as he struggled to regain full fitness.

The 28-year-old returned, however, for the white-ball legs of England’s tour and is also in the squad for next month’s two-Test series against New Zealand.

Assessing Wood’s likely availability for the remainder of a campaign which resumes with the second ODI at Mount Maunganui on Wednesday, Morgan said on Sunday evening: “It’s not a serious concern at the moment.
“He’s picked up a soreness the last couple of days and he wasn’t worth the risk today.

“We’ll see how he’s assessed over the next 24 hours to see whether he will participate in the next game or we build a plan as to when he can come back.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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The key characteristics that make up the perfect modern-day batsman

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The perfect batsman. They say there is no such thing. With three formats in the modern game, it is extremely difficult for a batsman to master every condition in every format. Players like Virat Kohli are one of the very few who have managed to do that but the task becomes difficult over a longer period of time for one batsman.

Every batsman has a particular area of strength that allows him to perform and possibly make up for deficiencies in other aspects of his game. In an ideal world, a batsman would have strong shoulders, great footwork, perfect technique, and near flawless hand-eye coordination. But since we do not live in that world, we can only imagine what a perfect modern-day batsman would look like.

Well, wonder no more. Here we pick the best aspects of top batsmen of the modern game and create the perfect batsman.

THE FEET OF VIRAT KOHLI

For a batsman, footwork is everything. Nimble feet allow batsmen to reach the pitch of the ball and negate any movement of the ball in the air off the pitch. Also, strong legs are critical when it comes to running between the wickets. Converting ones to twos and twos to three takes pressure off batsmen and demoralises opposition. And absolutely no one does it better than India captain Kohli. Having sorted out his footwork against the moving ball after a poor series in England in 2014, Kohli now looks in complete control at the crease. A confident press forward or back have become the hallmark of the 29-year-old’s batting. And there are very few players in the world who can match Kohli when it comes to running between the wickets, be it a T20 or in a Test late in the day.

Kohli is nimble on his feet.

Kohli is nimble on his feet.

THE EYES OF STEVE SMITH

Australia captain Steve Smith is a unique talent. He started his career as a leg-spinner who could bat and turned his game around through sheer hard work. He is not the most attractive player to watch as his footwork and stance seem all over the place. But look closely and you will witness a batsman who picks up the line of the ball the moment it is released by the bowler. Smith’s head position and bat swing allow him to dispatch the same delivery to either side of the ground. His footwork is an afterthought, especially against fast bowlers. So how has he managed to score 23 Test centuries? Through near flawless hand-eye precision. Once he knows where the ball is going to land, Smith doesn’t have to rely too much on precise footwork. Since Smith fidgets a lot out in the middle, a steady head and near perfect batting eyesight has allowed the Aussie to send opposition bowlers on a leather hunt all day long over the past few years.

THE HANDS OF AB DE VILLIERS

The South African Superman. There is almost nothing AB de Villiers can’t do with a stick and a ball. He was a talented field hockey and tennis player. He was a more than decent at golf, too. But he picked cricket over other sports. Thank you very much, AB.

Watching AB at the crease is an experience. What will he do? Send a full delivery down the ground or swat it over mid-wicket? Will he crash a yorker over long on or go down one knee and shovel the ball over fine leg? If there ever was a 360 degree batsman, it’s De Villiers. And you need the best hands in the game to do that. Capable of flicking, driving, pulling and cutting with hardly any discernible change in stance, AB’s hands make him almost invincible.

THE SHOULDERS OF CHRIS GAYLE

The ‘Six Machine’ is without doubt the greatest power hitter the game has seen. It seems West Indies star Chris Gayle took up the sport for a singular purpose – smash every bowler out of the park for eternity.

No ground is too big for the Jamaican. No bowler is too quick and no pitch is too difficult. If it is in his arc, it’s got to go. And it’s all brute power. Transferring all his upper body strength to his blade, Gayle doesn’t just hit the ball… he dismisses it from his presence.

With next to no footwork, Gayle uses his shoulder power to ensure even mishits go to the fence or over it.

For the record, Gayle is second on the list of all-time six hitters in international cricket with 454 maximums in 433 games behind Shahid Afridi (476 from 523 matches).

Gayle is the greatest power hitter in the game.

Gayle is the greatest power hitter in the game.

THE MIND OF HASHIM AMLA

For a batsman, everything fails if the mind is cluttered. Batting at your own pace irrespective of the opposition, conditions or match situation takes a lot of self belief and calmness of mind. And they don’t come any more serene than Hashim Amla.

The South African top-order batsman is one of the most unflappable players in the modern game. Amla doesn’t bat, he meditates on the pitch. The opposition might be on top, the pitch difficult or the match on a knife’s edge but Amla never loses his poise when he has the willow in hand.

Nothing seems to faze Amla.

Nothing seems to faze Amla.

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