Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Speculation is rife about the future of South Africa pace bowler Morne Morkel after it was revealed that a number of English county sides are interested in signing him on a Kolpak deal.
But, why would the 32-year-old even consider such an option following his spectacular performance in the recent four-Test series against England, where he was South Africa’s highest wicket-taker with 19 scalps at an average of 26.36.
Prior to the Test series against England, Morkel himself was unsure about what the future held for his international career.
“I don’t know. After this tour we’ll see. I’ll speak with Cricket South Africa and see where they see me featuring,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “I love playing for this team. But it’s not rocket science that they probably want to start looking, in white-ball cricket, at the 2019 World Cup.
“Am I going to part of those plans? If I can be around to help the younger guys find their feet, so be it. I’ll do that. For me the main focus is this tour and then we’ll go back and see how we go.”
One of the key reasons why Morkel should opt for a Kolpak deal is due to the fact that such contracts may become obsolete in the future due to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.
With Morkel himself weighing up his international future, he has to start thinking about what would be best for him and his family as the opportunity to work and play professional cricket in the United Kingdom may become impossible by 2019.
No doubt this will be a difficult decision for the Vereeniging native, but all he has to do is look at how Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw and Dane Vilas have been excelling since signing Kolpak deals.
Abbott and Rossouw sent shockwaves through the Proteas camp when they ended their international careers and joined Hampshire in January.
Vilas followed suit later that month and explained that his decision was based on the fact that he had “no real chance of getting back into the South African team”.
In the ongoing County Championship season, Abbott is the joint second-highest wicket-taker out of all the Division One teams with 42 victims at an average of 19.47.
While Rossouw has struggled in the four-day format, he was absolutely brilliant during Hampshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup campaign as he scored 196 runs in three matches at an average of 65.33.
As for Vilas, he has amassed 581 runs in nine County Championship games at an average of 44.69. He also accumulated 408 runs in eight Royal London One-Day Cup matches at an average of 58.28.
Meanwhile, Morkel also has to consider the fact that his spot in the Test team could be in danger when Dale Steyn makes his long-awaited comeback from a shoulder injury.
Steyn was supposed to return for the Test series against England, but had not recovered in time. This provided Morkel with a golden opportunity to prove his worth, and while he did not disappoint, it is likely that he will have to make way for Steyn once the 34-year-old returns, which could be very soon according to his Instagram post.
The wait might be over for Steyn, but for Morkel, the end of his international career could be fast approaching.
It will be tough for Morkel to compete with Philander, even though the latter was stricken with injury and illness issues throughout the Test series against England.
In regards to seamer Kagiso Rabada, Morkel has almost no chance of taking his place as the 22-year-old is seen as the future of the Proteas’ pace attack. Furthermore, South Africa have to adhere to the quota targets that have been set.
Morkel himself has to be aware that the clock is ticking, but that hasn’t stopped legendary South Africa seamer Allan Donald from making an impassioned plea to lanky pace bowler.
Speaking to the official Titans website, Donald said: “Don’t reconsider your future. South Africa needs you.”
While Donald wants Morkel to prolong his international career, all signs suggest that the 32-year-old should bow out gracefully and negotiate for a lucrative Kolpak deal as it wouldn’t only benefit him financially, but provide him with the opportunities that could dry up at the international level when Steyn returns.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani