Who is Morkel’s bunny?
It has been exhilarating watching Morkel and Steyn over the past six weeks in the IPL. I’ve also enjoyed the skills of Anderson of late, albeit in a far different environment, against the meagre Windies line-up. Witnessing the gifts of brilliant fast bowlers is by far the most invigorating feature of cricket and nothing stimulates like a fiery spell.
History has been littered with genius in that department, none more so than Marshall and Lillee in my book, but shortly we will all be spoilt by excellence. The shootout of the flame-throwers will go a long way to determining the outcome of the impending series between South Africa and England.
Anderson is by far the biggest threat on the opposition’s side, with Broad some distance behind, but a quick glance at the new-ball pairing from South Africa and already the English will be wary.
Steyn and Morkel are so good because they are dissimilar and complement each other superbly. Both are very sharp. Steyn is the shorter and more direct while Morkel extracts extreme potent bounce. Steyn is physically very aggressive whereas Morkel prefers the ball to do the talking. Morkel delights in bowling around the wicket particularly to left-handers and Steyn loves swinging the ball away to right-handers at pace from a more conventional release position.
Steyn prides himself on churning out his fastest and most intoxicating overs late in the day when the hard yards are needed, and that alone challenges Morkel to strive to do similar. Steyn is the more confident personality, and such is the bond between the two that he often drags Morkel to heights that are needed in that department. There is a lot to admire about these paired speed merchants.
Morkel has been sensational in India during the IPL. That he was omitted from the Delhi Daredevils' final knockout clash was mind-boggling. He advanced tremendously as a bowler and, after a battery recharge, that augurs well for the England series.
A recent comment of his that was somewhat out of character caught my attention, and I liked it.
He was asked by Cricinfo who he considers to be his international bunny. He responded with, “I'm playing against him soon, so I can't reveal his name. I don't want it to get out, but hopefully it can be seen soon and the guys can pick it up and let me know.”
That got me thinking and delving into various performance statistics and my memory banks. It did not take me long to surmise, and that suddenly escalated the upcoming series a few pegs in my mind.
The answer I reckon is Strauss as he has played against him in eight tests and dismissed him on no fewer that six occasions. That is a salivating prospect as we all know how treasured the wicket of the opposition skipper is. It is an age-old belief, originally introduced by the West Indies' lethal speedsters in the late 80s, that if you target and cut down the captain consistently, his team in turn starts to doubt and has the potential to unravel.
Morkel bearing down on Strauss at full tilt from around the wicket dishing out a measured dose of short ‘snorters’ to exploit that perceived weakness will get South Africans sitting a little more upright in front of their television sets. To further raise the stakes it is important I mention that Cook has also fallen victim to ‘The Giraffe’ six times out of eight tests, but has had some success in-between.
In a few weeks' time this will all be played out again and Morkel will have a couple of lefties at the top of the order well and truly in his sights, as he charges in from an unfamiliar angle. The theatre of cricket will be in full thrust as it always is mid-summer in England and the spectacle will be magnificent.
For Morkel the best part about it will be that his mate from Phalaborwa will be extreme in all aspects from the other end.