Image courtesy of: Zimbio
South Africa have confirmed that pace bowler Morne Morkel will play in his first Test match since January 2016.
The news comes after South Africa included Morkel in their squad for the first Test against New Zealand in Dunedin on Wednesday.
Morkel has barely played any competitive cricket since July last year due to a back injury. During his road to recovery, the 32-year-old was told that he would never be able to play cricket again.
But, Morkel soldiered on and is set to don his Proteas jersey once again when his side take on the Black Caps at the University Oval.
“He looks good. If he’s not going to be able to play now we will never know if we don’t take that chance,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “All the reports say he’s 100 per cent fine … he’s bowled a lot of overs and he seems pretty confident so we just have to step out and see what he’s got for us.”
With Morkel coming in, South Africa had to drop Duanne Olivier, who took five wickets on debut against Sri Lanka in January.
“I’m really excited to see what he’s got. We’ve missed him,” Du Plessis added. “He’s fresh, it’s a long time away from the game and it makes him really hungry to perform.”
The decision to pick Morkel was also based on his success against left-handed batsmen as there could be as many as five in New Zealand’s squad.
“He’s terrible to face in the nets as a right-hander because you always feel like you are going to get hit in the ribs,” Du Plessis said. “But obviously (it’s) the opposite to lefties, it goes away.”
Du Plessis also insisted that his side have to get accustomed to the cooler conditions in Dunedin and cannot use it as an excuse if they underperform.
“It’s not an excuse for anyone of us,” he said. “We just have to make sure we rock up here with the right attitude and play some good cricket.”
Furthermore, the 32-year-old is expecting New Zealand to bring in Jeetan Patel to bowl spin in tandem with Mitchell Santner.
“I expect that throughout the series New Zealand will look to try and play two spinners … maybe they see that as an opportunity where they can beat us,” he said.