South African cricket September 29, 2012

Why isn't Albie's potential being maximised?

Aashish Pattani
South Africa's use of the world's most experienced Twenty20 cricketer continues to baffle. Amid the third consecutive thrilling climax of the World T20, Albie Morkel cut a forlorn figure in field
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South Africa's use of the world's most experienced Twenty20 cricketer continues to baffle. Amid the third consecutive thrilling climax of the World T20, Albie Morkel cut a forlorn figure in field. Brought back into the attack in favour of Johan Botha and JP Duminy - who had conceded 15 runs from a combined four overs - Albie conceded 20 in seven balls to Umar Gul and Umar Akmal that allowed Pakistan back into a contest they went on to claim.

Albie's contribution to the match - two overs for 26 runs, 9 off 6 with the bat, and a catch in the deep - hinted at a man who had not been an influential figure in the game. But sadly, it has too often been the case for someone who is the world's first to reach 200 T20 appearances. Albie is also the second-most capped South African T20I player (he has played 41 games, only one fewer than his captain AB de Villiers). And yet, his near omnipresence on the team-sheet has been counterbalanced with near indifference when it comes to match contributions.

In T20Is, he has been Man of the Match just twice - far less than similar players in other sides. By contrast, Shane Watson and Shahid Afridi have both picked up seven such awards. But it's not his fault. Much of his lack of impact is due, arguably, to the South African management's insistence to hold him back from the action. Their use of Albie the batsman is puzzling. Here's a man who has the highest strike-rate (142.33) of any South African to play more than 15 matches, and has cleared the ropes 151 times in T20s - 53 more than the next best in the squad (JP Duminy). And yet, he has faced a mere 359 balls in 41 games. That is, on an average, around nine balls per game. Rarely has he been given the opportunity to spend time at the crease. On only four occasions has he faced more than three overs.

And despite performing admirably when he has - passing 35 on each occasion - he's too often been forced to wallow lower down the order. His strike-rate has actually declined the lower he has come in, falling from over 160 batting at No.5, to below 130 batting at No.8.

Given this history it was a shame - but by no means a surprise - to see him walk to the crease with just 2.4 overs remaining in the South African innings against Pakistan. But for all South Africa's talk of using Albie as an impact player, it is hard to argue that leaving him so late - behind even Farhaan Behardien, who is statistically inferior to Albie in every aspect of batting - was in the best interests of the team.

Albie the bowler has proved no less frustrating. Given his bowling pedigree outside the international stage, possessing an economy rate hovering around 8, it is not surprising that his opportunities have been limited with the ball. But he has bowled just 92 overs in his T20I career.

He's also bowled more balls (551) than he has faced (359), despite having poorer returns as a bowler (economy 7.99) than as a batsman (strike rate 142.33). But as a bowler, he's only completed his full quota nine times.

On most occasions he has been asked to bowl two overs or less of his quota, and hasn't picked up more than a couple of wickets in an innings. Outwardly, Albie doesn't seem too fazed. Now into his 30s, evidently personally and financially secure as a cricketer, he rarely appears agitated at his lack of opportunities for his national team. Indeed, the fact that he has been such a regular selection for the South African team would provide him comfort that the management is at least cognizant of his abilities as a cricketer. But in the interest of getting the most out of his talent for the benefit of the team, the management must let him face more balls. Hashim Amla faced many more than that (529) in a single innings against England just a couple of months ago.

Given South Africa have suppressed Albie's impact for song long, it is unlikely they will change track. So even if they lift their first global trophy next Sunday in Colombo, we can fully expect Albie to pick up his medal despite being no more than a bit-part player.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sri on October 4, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    Under Smith, Saffers choked. Under AB, they never choke. They just surrender. Some improvement that.

  • Alif on October 4, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    South Africa Should definitly have a left and right hand combination to open the innings..Otherwise All team will trouble them with left arm spinners....Thats Happened in Pak & Aus Game.And Albie Morkel in T20 Games always a better option to open, He has a great ability to Strike the ball and by far better hitter than existing south africans player..And why bahardien in the team man..If you want to have a rescue man in the team if wicket falls quickly why not put Kallis in number 6 batting position in T20's ..No one is better than him tecnically and In T20 his strike rate is not helping upfront. De villiers should batting higher . Number 3 in T20's more fruitfull for the team...And Albie Morkels talent should be utilized properly.that will bring more good results for them surely.In T20's there should be no waiting game untill 3 or 4 wickets fall early...If such a bad day came Kallis is there .Put him in number 6 batting position..

  • Amanraj Verma on October 3, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    If you look at the current SA batting line up one would probably say that the only place where albie could possibly fit in is that of opener ..but i don't really think,mainly b'coz of new ball ..and may be teams would open with off spinners against him then...there has always been an issue with the no7 batsmen across the world and a lot of debate has also been there about their talent been misused a remember the case with Yosuf Pathan of Indian as well..but the point is you need to have a no7 who consumes least amount of deliveries to get his eye in and should be ready to smack sixes from the word go..and Albie is certainly the one...ro add more to this i would say may be while setting up the target SA can promote him to a no 3 or no 4 position but while chasing no7 is the place he needs to be..

  • Trev Johnson on October 2, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    Excellent article Ash, unfortunately Albie is a cricketing enigma and probably always will be, not being given the chance to fulfil his true potential. Keep up the good work.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on October 1, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    When Mike Procter played, Albie wouldn't have been considered as a T-20, or One Day cricketer, people might have asked, should he be in the Test eleven? I think, he most definitely should have been. What is unusual is, in the times of Procter, there were players like Procter, and also the two Mr. Pollocks, who were supposed to be models of how to bat and bowl. I can't seem to spell the first name of G. Pollock. I don't know for certain, but if you can beat Ian Chappell's team in a test series, then the team should retire, and that is what happened. The West Indian team should also have retired, for some time, or perhaps not.

  • sailesh dontula on September 30, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    The thing that strikes my mind is Albie clearing the ground so easily. I couldnt understand why the south african management is not utilising one of the big hitters in an effective manner when other T20 franchises are making most of him. He needs to be given fair amount of chances at the top of the order as they dont have a constant batting line up in T20 internationals. They could add a much valued all-rounder to their armoury which would help them to attain more heights in their future as a team. Faith should be imparted in him by team management and should back him up so that he can deliver much more and add value to the current team.

  • Vic on September 30, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    Good article. I wonder why he was even brought into the attack when our spinners were doing so well.

  • Rizbi on September 30, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    thnks pattani for nice topic. for winning world cup albis contribution is urgent for team

  • Tim on September 30, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Absolutely a super player..he must get chances.

  • lasse manson on September 30, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    He was very influential. He made us lose.

  • Sri on October 4, 2012, 7:59 GMT

    Under Smith, Saffers choked. Under AB, they never choke. They just surrender. Some improvement that.

  • Alif on October 4, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    South Africa Should definitly have a left and right hand combination to open the innings..Otherwise All team will trouble them with left arm spinners....Thats Happened in Pak & Aus Game.And Albie Morkel in T20 Games always a better option to open, He has a great ability to Strike the ball and by far better hitter than existing south africans player..And why bahardien in the team man..If you want to have a rescue man in the team if wicket falls quickly why not put Kallis in number 6 batting position in T20's ..No one is better than him tecnically and In T20 his strike rate is not helping upfront. De villiers should batting higher . Number 3 in T20's more fruitfull for the team...And Albie Morkels talent should be utilized properly.that will bring more good results for them surely.In T20's there should be no waiting game untill 3 or 4 wickets fall early...If such a bad day came Kallis is there .Put him in number 6 batting position..

  • Amanraj Verma on October 3, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    If you look at the current SA batting line up one would probably say that the only place where albie could possibly fit in is that of opener ..but i don't really think,mainly b'coz of new ball ..and may be teams would open with off spinners against him then...there has always been an issue with the no7 batsmen across the world and a lot of debate has also been there about their talent been misused a remember the case with Yosuf Pathan of Indian as well..but the point is you need to have a no7 who consumes least amount of deliveries to get his eye in and should be ready to smack sixes from the word go..and Albie is certainly the one...ro add more to this i would say may be while setting up the target SA can promote him to a no 3 or no 4 position but while chasing no7 is the place he needs to be..

  • Trev Johnson on October 2, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    Excellent article Ash, unfortunately Albie is a cricketing enigma and probably always will be, not being given the chance to fulfil his true potential. Keep up the good work.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on October 1, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    When Mike Procter played, Albie wouldn't have been considered as a T-20, or One Day cricketer, people might have asked, should he be in the Test eleven? I think, he most definitely should have been. What is unusual is, in the times of Procter, there were players like Procter, and also the two Mr. Pollocks, who were supposed to be models of how to bat and bowl. I can't seem to spell the first name of G. Pollock. I don't know for certain, but if you can beat Ian Chappell's team in a test series, then the team should retire, and that is what happened. The West Indian team should also have retired, for some time, or perhaps not.

  • sailesh dontula on September 30, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    The thing that strikes my mind is Albie clearing the ground so easily. I couldnt understand why the south african management is not utilising one of the big hitters in an effective manner when other T20 franchises are making most of him. He needs to be given fair amount of chances at the top of the order as they dont have a constant batting line up in T20 internationals. They could add a much valued all-rounder to their armoury which would help them to attain more heights in their future as a team. Faith should be imparted in him by team management and should back him up so that he can deliver much more and add value to the current team.

  • Vic on September 30, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    Good article. I wonder why he was even brought into the attack when our spinners were doing so well.

  • Rizbi on September 30, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    thnks pattani for nice topic. for winning world cup albis contribution is urgent for team

  • Tim on September 30, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Absolutely a super player..he must get chances.

  • lasse manson on September 30, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    He was very influential. He made us lose.

  • rajesh on September 30, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    I stongly agree with this point, he is not fully utilised in IPL as well. He is a most destructive batsman i have seen.. a very good fielder... Power hitter against spin... He is a kind of Klusener, am a big fan of Albie... IPL 2012 Match CSK vs RCB... This one match is more than to give an evidence of his batting skills.... SA should use Albie up the order... AB, are you aware he has more strike rate than yours...

  • manoj on September 30, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    just take a look at his ipl records...dhoni give him much chances as he can n albie proves it right!!

  • srinivasan devarajan on September 30, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    very good article. SA wasted this man`s ability to dominate the opposition. Dhoni understand him better than his national team players. he has the capability, needs to show faith in him...

  • wooly on September 30, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    Agree with most of what you write. 'Hashim Amla faced many more than that (529) in a single innings against England just a couple of months ago.' This line however, is absolutely pointless.

  • Dayne on September 29, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    Great article, I had this very same discussion with my mate as SA lost to Pak. As an Australian, we've seen the best of Albie with the bat it seems, with him bludgeoning us many times in ODIs, particularly in the 2009 series. Even then his innings were more of the cameo style. When you review his average at First Class cricket, 44.95, it is fairly clear that he can bat for periods in excess of 10-ball cameos. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, he has left sizeable marks on even incredibly short stays at the crease, so imagine what he could do if he was given time to build an innings? He is an impact player, but he should be given more time to make this impact. Opponents around the world are beneficiaries of this misaligned strategy.

  • Anton on September 29, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    I wrote a comment about this a few days ago. My view is that he should come in when a wicket falls between the 10th and 14th/15th over. So, if the 1st wicket falls after 11 overs, he should come in at 3, or if the 3rd wicket falls in the 11th over, he should come in at 5. Even in 20-20 it can take a few balls to get in. In recent times he has been completely wasted, so much so that Albie himself now feels scoring 10 off 3 or 4 balls at the end of the innings is valuable. He should be looking to score half centuries or 60-70 runs off 30-40 balls coming in say, 12th over. I think SA have mismanaged him of late and his confidence has been broken.

  • Ben Marrion on September 29, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    Ap, you have done Springfield Cricket Club proud with article! Top work fella.

  • shawshank on September 29, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    you spoke my mind. your analysis is spot on. i was also disappointed to see AB coming so lower down the order in the last match against Pakistan and i think that over of albie costed them the match. i hope AB figures out how to use his resources correctly against Australia.i won't be able bear it any more if South Africa gets thrown out by another freaky defeat.if they lose, i would rather want them to lose by a huge margin of say 10 wickets, rather than a defeat of 1 wicket in the last ball of the match. i am a crazy South African fan from Bangladesh.

  • Sasi Kumar on September 29, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    its very much right. He prove with is bat in australia and also very popular figure in IPL T20. Because of his batting, CSK team retain him for their side as only foreign player.

  • Sifter on September 29, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    I can understand why he doesn't bowl a lot- he's not really that good, and with Kallis and Duminy he won't be needed for 4 overs very often. But I agree with the lack of batting opportunities. The guy with the highest strike rate should ALWAYS get a run at the crease because that is what T20 is about, maximising your score. Easiest way would be to ask Albie which bowlers he fancies smashing and then try to get him in when that guy is most likely to be on.

  • Anonymous on September 29, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    I think best way to utilize Albie is open or number 3.....

  • albiefan on September 29, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    He's a great player. He should get better opportunities. He's far better than chris gayle. Sa staff will have to recognise his abilities

  • palash on September 29, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    PAK vs sA sure win SA,but i dont understand.Why"AB DE VILLIEAR" not used sping?so sad, I Hope SA win the next macth.i want SA play semi final.

  • saad zahid on September 29, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    c'mon guys this guy have loads of potential when it comes to power hitting... if u guys keep on sending him as low as a tail ender how could he score... the best suggestion i would give to AB & Co. is that send him as an opener instead of levi... then send levi 1 down then comes AB & JP... kallis, behardein & botha to follow... as an opener Albie can take the attack off the opposition...

  • karthik on September 29, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    One only needs to see how his IPL side Chennai Super Kings have been using him quite well to good effect. Opens the bowling ( and gets hit often but has a knack of having the last laugh with a wicket ). Batting-wise he has single handedly saved the team so many times with crucial blows, most recent IPL examples being his demolition of Kohli in Chennai and the game in Jaipur this year.

  • Me on September 29, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Levi should be dropped!

  • jesse govender on September 29, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    Spot on. Albie is a great hitter of the ball and should definitely be better utilised to maximise South African totals. His bowling is below par and needs alot of work. He should be used more as a batsman than a bowler. Using him as a batsman and only bowl him if needed. AB needs to be smart as a captain and make use of Albie.

  • Rishi on September 29, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    I agree with this article even chennai super kings did the same thing.

  • Anonymous on September 29, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am not going to use the "c" word for south africa but for all their grit, strength and discipline... they lack a key component "imagination" when the crunch time is on, they just seem to lack that intuitive killer instinct

  • swaroop on September 29, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Very well said... South Africa trust wrong people... They offer Levi umpteen number of chances even though he is not scoring runs...

  • Harvey Watson on September 29, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Tough for Albie and the viewer as I think we all know his striking ability could be better utilised. Perhaps he could open in place of Levi, although as mentioned he will likely continue to languish lower down the order. Shame to not see the best of a quality player.

  • Thabo on September 29, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    AB De Villiers must explain to South Africa why he stopped using his spin bowlers in favour of his fast bowlers when they [ fast bowlers ] were "leaking" runs.It was blatant to see that spin was the better option against Pakistan. It is not good enough for AB to admit that he made errors.

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  • Thabo on September 29, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    AB De Villiers must explain to South Africa why he stopped using his spin bowlers in favour of his fast bowlers when they [ fast bowlers ] were "leaking" runs.It was blatant to see that spin was the better option against Pakistan. It is not good enough for AB to admit that he made errors.

  • Harvey Watson on September 29, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Tough for Albie and the viewer as I think we all know his striking ability could be better utilised. Perhaps he could open in place of Levi, although as mentioned he will likely continue to languish lower down the order. Shame to not see the best of a quality player.

  • swaroop on September 29, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Very well said... South Africa trust wrong people... They offer Levi umpteen number of chances even though he is not scoring runs...

  • Anonymous on September 29, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    I am not going to use the "c" word for south africa but for all their grit, strength and discipline... they lack a key component "imagination" when the crunch time is on, they just seem to lack that intuitive killer instinct

  • Rishi on September 29, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    I agree with this article even chennai super kings did the same thing.

  • jesse govender on September 29, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    Spot on. Albie is a great hitter of the ball and should definitely be better utilised to maximise South African totals. His bowling is below par and needs alot of work. He should be used more as a batsman than a bowler. Using him as a batsman and only bowl him if needed. AB needs to be smart as a captain and make use of Albie.

  • Me on September 29, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Levi should be dropped!

  • karthik on September 29, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    One only needs to see how his IPL side Chennai Super Kings have been using him quite well to good effect. Opens the bowling ( and gets hit often but has a knack of having the last laugh with a wicket ). Batting-wise he has single handedly saved the team so many times with crucial blows, most recent IPL examples being his demolition of Kohli in Chennai and the game in Jaipur this year.

  • saad zahid on September 29, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    c'mon guys this guy have loads of potential when it comes to power hitting... if u guys keep on sending him as low as a tail ender how could he score... the best suggestion i would give to AB & Co. is that send him as an opener instead of levi... then send levi 1 down then comes AB & JP... kallis, behardein & botha to follow... as an opener Albie can take the attack off the opposition...

  • palash on September 29, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    PAK vs sA sure win SA,but i dont understand.Why"AB DE VILLIEAR" not used sping?so sad, I Hope SA win the next macth.i want SA play semi final.