Morne Morkel June 24, 2012

'Losing to New Zealand in the World Cup was the saddest day'

Morne Morkel on sibling rivalry, big-match nerves, the disappointment of defeat, and more

First fight with Albie
In childhood, in the backyard. We had a lot of rugby and cricket games in that backyard and fought quite a lot - you know, when you think you're not out and they think you are. When I was younger, around 10-11 years old, he had things going much for him. I'm the baby in the family, so I pulled the short straw. Now the tables have turned. I'm 6ft 5in and Albie's a bit shorter.

First hat-trick
The earliest one I remember was in school. I took quite a few then. Unfortunately not on the international scene - I've been on hat-tricks at several points but it's not happened. I remember the first for my primary school: there was an over where they needed two runs in the last over to win and there were four batters to come. I took a hat-trick, bowled a dot ball and then took another wicket, so it was a four-wicket maiden, basically.

First case of fast bowler's nerves
I think just before I made my debut for South Africa. I played for South Africa A when India toured here. I had only played a handful of first-class games at the time I was picked for the A side in Potchefsroom. That day, they were all playing - Sehwag, Tendulkar, all the big five. I remember opening the bowling and I was very, very nervous because that was the first time I'd seen these guys face to face. That day, bowling that first over to Sehwag was probably when I was the most nervous in my life. Luckily I ended up taking four-five wickets. And it was funny how it worked out. Dale [Steyn] got injured for the first Test and I got pulled into the Test squad.

First sporting heroes
In cricket terms, when I was younger, guys like Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock. Currently, I look up to Charl Schwartzel, the golfer. I went to school with Charl. It's amazing to see how he's grown now. He's played a lot of golf and his mental attitude to the game is unbelievable. Nowadays I tend to drift away from cricketing heroes, but find a guy in a different sport and try to find mental toughness more than many things. So I'm very impressed by guys like Rafa Nadal. They are just inspirational. How they can go on for sets - for me, that's inspiring.

First time I cried on a cricket field
There's a couple of times. Every time you lose a game for your country, a lot of people, especially back home in SA, see it as just another loss. The sort of stuff that comes in the media is sometimes hard. It saddens me, and the way they make it out like we've just like choked or those sorts of things... We actually go out there and try to give our best in every game. The way sometimes people see it is sad. The World Cup match we lost against New Zealand was a sad day. That was so far probably the saddest day for me.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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