Australia cricket | Chuffed Morkel savours 'most memorable moment'



As the dust settled on a highly eventful Test match at Newlands, South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel emerged an elated man after capping of one of his most successful Test appearances, coincidentally, in his second-last outing for the country. The fast bowler earned his best-ever match figures of 9 for 110 - including a second-innings fifer - in South Africa's thumping 322-run victory in Cape Town, giving the hosts an unassailable series lead, and a chance to win their first-ever home Test series against Australia in 26 years.

"Today was very, very special. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible. The crowd is always amazing here at Newlands. For me, it is the best venue to play Test cricket. Today is the highlight of my life. If I get asked the question again, what is your most memorable or special moment, the answer will definitely be today," Morkel saidon Sunday(March 25).

After South Africa set a target of 430, the Australian openers - and two of the few in the eye of the ball tampering storm - David Warner and Cameron Bancroft took their troubled side to 47 for no-wicket at Tea. But once play resumed, Australia couldn't sustain the start and wilted spectacularly under pressure to fold for 107, with Morkel accounting for five of the wickets. The fast bowler praised spinner Keshav Maharaj, who dismissed Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh to reduce Australia to 59 for 4.

"Just very happy sitting here right now. Everything happened so quickly out there. At one stage, I thought it was going to be a grind. Keshav [Maharaj] got the ball rolling and from there, there was just a buzz in the field, an edge in the field. Just happy we could wrap it up," Morkel said.

In an intriguing post-match press conference, where Faf du Plessis had to field questions on his opposite number and the dramatic turn of events in the Test, he also gave glowing testimonials of Morkel, who is one Test away from international retirement.

"There's been a lot of good stuff been said over the last while about Morne, but Morne has almost been, for the first six, seven or eight years of his career, the guy that has gone unnoticed. He was the work horse. He got his two or three fors and I think only captains really appreciate the work Morne does.

"He is not the guy that gets five-fors. Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada of late, they get the five-fors on regular occasions. Morne does the donkey work. He works hard. He runs in all day. He never says I have bowled enough. You tell him it is enough and still he wants to bowl more and more. That's a captain's dream."

More than a decade since making his foray into international cricket through his first Test against India in Durban, Morkel will bid goodbye with 86 of them to his name. Du Plessis reckoned a fit and firing Morkel will leave behind quite massive boots to fill for his successor.

"As a performer, he is going to be missed. He has been a mother figure in the team, with a big heart. We are going to miss that. Obviously his bowling, we are going to miss. He has scored some valuable runs for us, especially this year. It is size 13 boots that need to be filled. We understand his decision. It's a decision for his future and his family. He knows that the team backs him up 100%. It's great to see the fans are so behind him. I reckon he is going to miss days like these a lot," Du Plessis said.