India in South Africa 2013-14 December 16, 2013

Morkel content with supporting role

72

Cheteshwar Pujara didn't have to think too hard when asked who the fastest bowler he has ever faced is. Morne Morkel.

The answer may come as a surprise, especially since Pujara, who has recently played against the likes of Dale Steyn and Tino Best*. But Pujara was adamant. Morkel was the quickest.

South Africa's management team would be pleased. For months, they have been saying the same thing. Morkel has got the speed gun more excited than Steyn, and has softened batsmen up more than Vernon Philander but just hasn't recorded the same results. Luckily for them, Morkel is completely comfortable playing a supporting role.

"My partnership with Dale is long gone. Vernon and Dale are the new guys and I've made peace with that. I am not going to wear the yellow jersey anymore," Morkel said, referring to what a cyclist dons when he is the stage leader in a race. "Those guys have been unbelievable for the team."

Between them, Steyn and Philander have taken 69 wickets in Tests this year. Steyn's 41 have come at an average of 14.36 while Philander's 28 average 16.35. Contrastingly, Morkel has managed only 13 wickets at 30.69, but he has played as important a role as the other two.

Morkel's job is a balance between pressing home any advantage Steyn and Philander give South Africa, while buttering batsmen up for a fresh assault from the opening pair. With the bounce he generates, he has to ensure the batsmen can never settle and has also been tasked with keeping run-scoring to a minimum, as he did in the Abu Dhabi Test against Pakistan.

When neither Steyn nor Philander could break through, Morkel simply held his end. He was South Africa's most economical bowler, costing them only 1.52 runs an over, and even though they lost that match, Morkel's ability to contain was a positive.

Traditionally, Morkel does not so much frustrate as cause fear. He applies the basting - short of length balls which keep batsmen on the back foot and bouncers directed at the body - so someone else can do the roasting. Despite the Wanderers surface likely to offer more for Morkel than some of the other bowlers, he sees himself playing a similar role.

"When I come to the Wanderers, I bowl for one dismissal - for the caught behind because I get so much bounce," he said. Morkel has taken 15 of his 177 wickets at the ground, with a best of 4 for 59 against England three years ago, which may be why he doesn't see it as his favourite hunting ground. "The most important thing for me is to stick to my strengths. It's always been bouncy and quick here and the margins are a little bit smaller. It will be crucial that we do not get carried away."

While conditions will suit the seamers more than in other places, Morkel is still well aware that batsmen have also enjoyed playing at the Wanderers. The ball comes onto the bat quicker, aiding stroke-making, while altitude and a fast outfield allow the ball to travel faster once hit.

For Morkel, that means there's a distinct possibility of a high-scoring game, especially because of the mindset of the Indian players, which he described as "very attacking." He identified the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and R Ashwin as batsmen who would take the fight to South Africa and wants his team-mates to start well to blunt the Indian line-up's intent.

"Where we have been guilty of late is that we start a little bit slowly, like in Abu Dhabi," he said. South Africa went 1-0 down in the series before surging back to square it in Dubai. Morkel does not want to see a lapse like that ahead of a home summer that culminates with three Tests against a much-improved Australia. "For us it's key to take momentum and get overs in our feet. It's going to be important to get used to bowling long spells again and playing competitive cricket."

Despite India's build-up - a 2-0 thrashing in the ODI series and a washed-out tour game to deprive them of any red-ball match practice - this series still pits the top-ranked Test team against the second-placed one and they are expected to be well matched. The central battle lines have been drawn between South Africa's bowlers and India's batsmen with conditions expected to favour the former and challenge the latter.

Morkel doesn't think it's that simple, which is why he wants to slip back to basics and his supporting actor role to play his part in the contest. "It doesnt matter who you play against or where, the top of off stump and the odd bouncer is a winning combination," he said. And that's what he will be doing.

*December 16 4:30 pm GMT This article had incorrectly stated that Pujara faced Mitchell Johnson in the recent ODI series between Australia and India

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fijicricket on December 18, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa on (December 17, 2013, 7:41 GMT) Blah blah,best Test team in the world , blah, blah. As a fan if I had to choose between having some silverware and being the best ODI team in the world and be the WORLD CHAMPIONS OR being humiliated whenever I go to the Subcontinent and win no tournaments ever. I go with being world champions! Once SA/PAK starts to win ANY tournament anywhere in the world , then they will get the respect they deserve from INDIA Aus, and Eng fans. But unfortunate the SA and Pakistan teams will never win any tournaments and this is unlikely to change.

  • Janagar on December 18, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    If indian batsman and bowlers didnt do the work, the following match will occurs

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/rsaveng09/engine/current/match/387573.html

    If indian batsman and bowlers do the work, the following match will occurs

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/350472.html

  • Sam_SRT_Fan on December 18, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    My prediction: SA wins 2-0. I'd love the Indians to prove me wrong though.

  • stormy16 on December 18, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    I'm not sure Morkel has the luxury of being content first change bowler as that is surely the most sought after position by a string of SA next generation fast bowlers. Abbot and De Lange both with 5fer's on their debut come to mind. Not suggesting they should play in place of Morkel but I think Morkel has a battle on his hands and has to perform to continue selection. His height is unique and the bounce he generates will always be a factor but its not like chaps like De Lange are exactly short!

  • pretoria on December 17, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    Whatever form the Aussies have, SA and India are still number 1 and 2. The supporters of both teams expect them to live up to that grading. I for one think that this will, despite all the talking, be a close fought affair with the team holding on to all their catches, the winner. As a SA supporter, I am anxious that Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis live up to their ability. Kallis in particular has given his wicket away far too often during the past year with unnecesary attacking strokes. If not, he must make way for someone younger and hungry. Smith is absolutely vital to SA's chances not only against India, but also later against Australia. If Smith plays well, SA win, if he fails SA normally fails. For India, Kohli Dhoni and Zack Khan are the keys. I look forward to see Pujara bat.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    Morne Morkel is a good bowler but has been overshadowed by Steyn and Philander. He hasn't done as much as the other two but is good enough to be the 3rd bowler; he can really trouble batsmen at times with his pace and bounce. I feel the Indian batsmen will struggle against him in this tour since they are not very comfortable against bounce and have been playing most of their cricket in slow and low pitches for quite some time.

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Dhoni Keep the Spinners aside and include 4 seamers and ask kohli to bowl ...

  • Chncricfan_2k0 on December 17, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    India should play with 4 pacers, Zaheer, Shami, Yadav and Kumar, so they can have more variety in their pace attack..

  • GRVJPR on December 17, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    @ Sourav Roy , His knowledge is all right. He is number 1 test allrounder at the moment.

  • ketaann on December 17, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    it will be defenately high scoring game for south africa, they will make 550+ in 1st inn. N will ran through indian batting line up twice with ease.

  • Fijicricket on December 18, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa on (December 17, 2013, 7:41 GMT) Blah blah,best Test team in the world , blah, blah. As a fan if I had to choose between having some silverware and being the best ODI team in the world and be the WORLD CHAMPIONS OR being humiliated whenever I go to the Subcontinent and win no tournaments ever. I go with being world champions! Once SA/PAK starts to win ANY tournament anywhere in the world , then they will get the respect they deserve from INDIA Aus, and Eng fans. But unfortunate the SA and Pakistan teams will never win any tournaments and this is unlikely to change.

  • Janagar on December 18, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    If indian batsman and bowlers didnt do the work, the following match will occurs

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/rsaveng09/engine/current/match/387573.html

    If indian batsman and bowlers do the work, the following match will occurs

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/350472.html

  • Sam_SRT_Fan on December 18, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    My prediction: SA wins 2-0. I'd love the Indians to prove me wrong though.

  • stormy16 on December 18, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    I'm not sure Morkel has the luxury of being content first change bowler as that is surely the most sought after position by a string of SA next generation fast bowlers. Abbot and De Lange both with 5fer's on their debut come to mind. Not suggesting they should play in place of Morkel but I think Morkel has a battle on his hands and has to perform to continue selection. His height is unique and the bounce he generates will always be a factor but its not like chaps like De Lange are exactly short!

  • pretoria on December 17, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    Whatever form the Aussies have, SA and India are still number 1 and 2. The supporters of both teams expect them to live up to that grading. I for one think that this will, despite all the talking, be a close fought affair with the team holding on to all their catches, the winner. As a SA supporter, I am anxious that Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis live up to their ability. Kallis in particular has given his wicket away far too often during the past year with unnecesary attacking strokes. If not, he must make way for someone younger and hungry. Smith is absolutely vital to SA's chances not only against India, but also later against Australia. If Smith plays well, SA win, if he fails SA normally fails. For India, Kohli Dhoni and Zack Khan are the keys. I look forward to see Pujara bat.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    Morne Morkel is a good bowler but has been overshadowed by Steyn and Philander. He hasn't done as much as the other two but is good enough to be the 3rd bowler; he can really trouble batsmen at times with his pace and bounce. I feel the Indian batsmen will struggle against him in this tour since they are not very comfortable against bounce and have been playing most of their cricket in slow and low pitches for quite some time.

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Dhoni Keep the Spinners aside and include 4 seamers and ask kohli to bowl ...

  • Chncricfan_2k0 on December 17, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    India should play with 4 pacers, Zaheer, Shami, Yadav and Kumar, so they can have more variety in their pace attack..

  • GRVJPR on December 17, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    @ Sourav Roy , His knowledge is all right. He is number 1 test allrounder at the moment.

  • ketaann on December 17, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    it will be defenately high scoring game for south africa, they will make 550+ in 1st inn. N will ran through indian batting line up twice with ease.

  • on December 17, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    The fact that he mentioned R Ashwin as a batsman will make an impact goes to show how in depth knowledge of the game he has .

  • on December 17, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    Here's some interesting reading between the two teams, taking from the top ten rankings for players:

    Top 10 Test batsmen: SA has 3 (in positions 1,2,9). India has 1 (7) Top 10 Test bowlers: SA has 2 (in positions 1,2). India has 2 (5,8) Top 10 Test Allrounders: SA has 2 (positions 3,4). India has 1 (1)

    Top 10 ODI batsmen: SA has 2 (positions 1,3). India has 3 (2,6,10) Top 10 ODI bowlers: SA has 3 (positions 2,8,9). India has 1 (7) Top 10 Allrounders: SA has 1 (position 10). India has 1 (5)

  • anupam9992 on December 17, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    dhoni should wake up and for one time he should put ashwin,jadeja aside and go with 4 pacers and 7 batsmen, I know this won't happen, but atleast keep jadeja out, and bring Rayudu in, if there is anyone who can replace no.4 position in the team it is Rayudu, many may find this stupid, but that's the fact, he was called jr.tendulkar

  • maheshkumar.de on December 17, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    Justa few points I would like to make:

    SA is a damn good test team with bowlers like Steyn, Morkel, Philander; batsmen like Amla, Devillars and allrounders like Kallis. They are deservedly number one are clearly favorites and especially in SA conditions they are not easy to beat.

    India is a team with raw talent but with little oversee practice. They would do well to apply themselves and user their strengths and exploit SA's weeknesses (which are not many).

    It will be tough for india but under similar circumstances, India has won tests in SA before and can do it but they will have to apply themselves very well. Everybody will have to contribute because one or two performance might not suffice against a quality team like SA.

    I am looking forward to a good competetion. Good luck to both teams.

  • on December 17, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    morkel's short pitch dilivery is gonna trouble most of the indian batsmen even if they manage to survive styen and philander. Indians have an over-confident attacking mentality and that is gonna be their down fall. STYEN with his pace, line and length...PHILANDER with his line and length can swing the ball both ways and MORKEL with raw pace and bounce can bowl close to 150km.

    if IMRAN TAHIR plays then i'm sure he'll trouble the batsmen as well, he's been in a good form lately after the UAE tour against pakistan

  • GRVJPR on December 17, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    I wish Ishant gets the new ball again just as he got in 2nd ODI. He has been criticied so much that he needs that feeling that he is seen as important member of team. If he doesn't ball well captain can always take him out, but with swinging zaheer Ishant's hit the ball on pitch type of bowling should complement well, much like steyn and hit the ball Morkel. Shami has already shown that he is good anytime. Shami will always be in minds of African batsmen especially in test matches in which he can go at full tilt and try bouncers, yorkers, mouth smashers, guard breakers. Umesh needs to think before delivering. Yes Umesh should ball quick but mix it up. Good thing is there will be help in pitches as South African team has thin in head that Indian can't handle pace and bounce. It's up to Indian bowlers to take advantage of it.

  • on December 17, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Well my playing 11 fr the next match are - 1.Vijay 2. Dhawan 3.Pujara 4. Kohli 5. Rohit 6. Ashwin 7.Dhoni 8. Bhubneswar 9.Zaheer 10.Shami 11.Umesh

  • on December 17, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    We must be very careful when talking about someone being the most economical bowler in the team.The reality is Morne Morkel doesn't make the batsmen play enough when the ball is new.Admittedly his erratic bowling of 2 good balls and 4 poor ones are also confusing the batsmen and is paying dividends the same.Morne could and should be far more dangerous when attacking more.You don't play supporting roles to bowlers who themselves give away nothing up front.Grab the ball and attack Morne you can do it.Come on Proteas!!!

  • Dr.Vindaloo on December 17, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    One thing is certain about this series: Virat Kohli will end the series a lot quieter than he began it after some nice chin music from Morkel and Steyn. And then go back to India and make some nice flashy tons on featherbed tracks.

  • Imad_K on December 17, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    India will get thrashed just like they got thrashed when they played England and Australia away - it was complete humiliation then. The same excuses were used then - and at that time India had all their top batsmen playing - so now it's the excuse of the young team. Only hope they have is if they find maybe a few youngsters who look remotely comfortable batting in these conditions against good quick bowlers on bouncy tracks. The last time India got thrashed in England and then Australia - I think it was only Kohli who looked somewhat comfortable. As long as India keep living in denial about the quick short ball in these conditions then they will continue to get thrashed. India's bowling - will really need their spinners to step up because there is nothing in their pace department that will trouble South Africa.

  • King-Cobra on December 17, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Just to make everything clear before the series starts.

    This is how India stand, since 2011:

    Away:

    WI 2011 - played (3) won (1) lost ( ) drawn (2) Eng 2011 - played (4) won ( ) lost (4) drawn ( ) Aus 2011 - played (4) won ( ) lost (4) drawn ( )

    Home

    WI 2011 - played (3) won (2) lost ( ) drawn (1) NZ 2012 - played (2) won (2) lost ( ) drawn ( ) Eng 2012 - played (4) won (1) lost (2) drawn (1) Aus 2013 - played (4) won (4) lost ( ) drawn ( ) WI 2013 - played (2) won (2) lost ( ) drawn ( )

    Summary (played-won-lost): Away 11-1-8 ; Home 15-11-2

    Should India lose this 2-0, my opinion is that Dhoni & Duncan Fletcher should step out of the test setup.

  • ARJUN217 on December 17, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    I dont expect india to win any matches. but i like to see a fighting young team. i am sure MS Dhoni,virat,pujara and dhavan gonna fight for india. Morkel surely gonna be a threat for indian batsman with his pace and bounce.GUD LUCK to MS And his Boys.

  • on December 17, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    What about flat pitches? do u even know what does flat pitches do??? it supports batsmen to play isnt ur country batsmen good enough to play on flat pitches... does it means only indian can play on flat pitches???? that mean u cant play on our condition given lol so u cant talking bad about indian team... lol indian didnt get warmn up match there is SAF thats the bonus for u guys.. other wise things would have been worse for u guys.. playing faster isnt smart... but playing to spinner which requires lot of tallents which indian has shows the skills as well... u guys can make ur self happy by talking all this but there is a very good saying when elephant roams other animals yells n bark out of jealousy

  • Jeeves_ on December 17, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Good bowlers hunt in packs! Here we can see the power of 3 quality bowlers in tandem. Australia are now doing the same with similar success with Harris, Johnson and Siddle. Imran Tahir also proved he is a force to be reckoned with on the right pitches. He suffered on the harder pitches of Australia, yet just look at Graham Swann's performances. It is a pity that South Africa have given up on Johan Botha, who is a fine cricketer and potential captain.

  • on December 17, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    Well going by the comments it should be an easy win for India, like the ODI's was suppose to be...

  • Iceman29 on December 17, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @ ChrisMarx: Ind is playing horribly in overseas at the moment no denying that but there is a difference between "choking" and losing....

  • ICCexpert.... on December 17, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    cant wait to see the drubbing Indians get in the 2 test. Innings defeat oh no follow-on and innings will be better. lol

  • Cricfever_PM on December 17, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Morkel always been the key for SA success in recent times, though the most of the limelight was stealth by Steyn one can't write off Morkel's support to steyn!!! His speed which always assist seaming pitch and the current Indian squad looks vulnerable and i don't worry if they lose by 2-0 as this serious is learning for them and they should learn how to bat in seaming pitch and they must learn how to contain the bouncers, in-swing ect. I would be really happy if they draw any test and if they win i believe in miracle!!! Best of luck India!!!

  • Cricfever_PM on December 17, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa!! I don't know which team you support!!! Yes India have lost couple test serious in a humiliation manner, but it doesn't mean we don't have quality players! We are No.1 ODI team and No.2 Test team, so suddenly don't support the team which couldn't even qualify for the final of any ICC tournament in 21 century! If you think Test cricket is the only cricket i am sorry you should have the team to beat the other team in all discipline of game!!! What is the use of having the best bowler, best batsmen, best all rounder & best fielder in the world when you can't win any ODI serious in India!!!

  • Unomaas on December 17, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    @GermanPlayer who said "@Unomaas Success at domestic level does not mean success at International level in all case".

    More often than not, bowlers who do well at domestic level, do well in the SA team. They have to because the standard and competition for places are so high. Sure, there are failures at international level, but there are more successes than failures. Remember, we have produced three all time great bowlers in the space of 3 consecutive bowling generations (Donald, Pollock, Steyn). I think that must be a record.

    Since our re-admission to international cricket, our team has been built around our world-class fast bowling stocks which was partnered with a somewhat brittle batting unit. Its only recently that our batting has joined the party. But we as saffa's still remember the days of batting implosions. I think we all blame Steve Waugh and his aussies for that, hence revenge is so sweet when we return the by demolishing the aussies in their back yard.

  • joe_antony on December 17, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Well, due to an extraordinary dismal show by India, the proteas never had to deal with the 'C' word in the ODIs. India has to use the 'C' factor to their advantage, if the do the can put up some sort of competition in tests.

  • Unomaas on December 17, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    @Gareth_Bain

    I never knew that! That would mean that all SA players stats are skewed (even the batters). Does this phenomenon apply to other cricket leagues or is it only unique to SA?

    Btw, I think the point still stands. There are 4 bowlers currently (De Lange, Abbott, Hendricks, Gqamane) gunning for the 3+4 seamer spot.

  • ChrisMarx on December 17, 2013, 8:09 GMT

    So when SA fail to win a tournament overseas they "choked", but when India fail to win a Test match overseas it is the unsporting pitches, unfamiliar conditions, unfair schedule, unexperienced players, biased umpiring or any one of a hundred other excuses.... At least the SA team and supporters are owning up to their mistakes and taking responsibility for them and not hiding behind excuses to mask their own failures. So yeah, can't wait to see Team India CHOKE agian and again and again in the following months playing away from home for a change, and the comical and denialist excuses that are sure to follow.

  • AamirKhan-SuperStar on December 17, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    Looking forward to this series, SA quicks are favourites but it always makes a great contest when batsmen are determined to fight. Just saw ashes test, test cricket is mouth watering and cant wait anymore for this series to start.

  • Sagarneel on December 17, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    Although an Indian supporter, I really like this SA side for the nice blokes like Morkel and Amla that this team has. This team seem to be having just the perfect balance, and although they lack a good spinner, the pacers more than make up for that deficit. Yes, it is going to be tough for the Indians; and although I don't expect them to win the series, I'm definitely looking forward to a good contest. They just need to believe in the old cliche of playing up to their potential, and remember not to get carried away!

  • A-funny-game on December 17, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    India has always been a strong team in sub continent conditions specially in test cricket.It will be a great achievement if they they could reduce the margin of 2-0 lost to protease

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 17, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    @sidh78 Blah blah, Champions Trophy, blah, blah. As a fan if I had to choose between NOT having some silverware and being the best Test team in the world OR being humiliated whenever I go outside the Subcontinent and win a couple tournaments every 5 years. I go with being No.1 Test team thanks.

    Once India starts to master all conditions, then they will get the respect they deserve from SA, Aus, PAK and Eng fans. But unfortunate the BCCI likes creating dead wickets for the run fests, so this is unlikely to ever change.

  • billy567 on December 17, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    south africa knows clearly who is the best batsman in india and simply targeting them to reduce the confidence level of kohli since he has more exposure to sa conditions than recentform rohit sharma

  • sidh78 on December 17, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    @ SA team fans what is use of great bowlers and batsman like steyn & abd if they choked in pressuire & not performing in big and importanat knock out matches.just check your teams record in WC & CT and other ICC tournaments.in big & kock out matches you should have great confidance,big determination, killer instinct,and passion,skill of handling high pressure and lastly never give up attitude but SA team never have that qualities and always choked and kicked out from big tournaments(latest example sa team was not able even score 11 runs from 12 balls with 6 wickets in hand again pak.even bangaldesh team can do that & last WC quater final against NZ) so SA teams fan plz tell me what is the use of ur great team if they can not win where required most in must win matches.but teams like ind alwys win in big tournaments becoz of above qualities.they rise their game in must win matches beside not having great team.so ind won many world tournaments than SA and other teams.

  • on December 17, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    This SA bowling attack could be attributed to 80s formidable WI attack.. The Indians are going to dance to their tunes. They should have gone couple of weeks earlier to get use to the pace and bounce. Let's see how captain COOL is going to handle this pressure.. Common India show your colours ..

  • on December 17, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Indian is going to play very well. Take it from me. Virat and Rohit is going to hit 100s and shikar and Murli will give a good start tomorrow. India will silence all critics and South Africa will be embrassed by India's top batting. This will happen. I have a strong faith..

  • Iceman29 on December 17, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    We expect just a good fight from our players not a win...Don't surrender yourself meekly that will be the biggest shame than losing....Each day every ball will be a learning for the players...hope they get ready for the next world cup...

  • satzzz on December 17, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    @ GermanPlayer. German Player? This is Cricket that we are speaking about dude. Guess you have mistaken it for... Soccer? err.. you are not strong in that either. Tennis? GOSH!

    Okay, some PS games.

  • on December 17, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Dhavan is the man to go

  • Al_Bundy1 on December 17, 2013, 4:36 GMT

    I expect Pujara and Rohit to put up a fight. They might get some support from Dhoni and Ashwin. Rest of our batsmen won't last more than a few overs. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will have Dhawan, Murli and Kohli for breakfast. Is it too late to replace Kohli with Pervez Rasool??

  • on December 17, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    What a class act this man is. He is one of the world's greatest quicks, yet so willing to yield the limelight to others. Morkel my man. U may give up the yellow jersey to the others. But in my book, u will always be the "man in yellow".

  • IndCricFan2013 on December 17, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    India's scores will depend on how long the top 3 stay with out getting out. While nothing much to say about Pujara, both Vijay and Dhawan needs to change their approach a little bit. Dhawan should stop attacking and stepping out for every ball. Vijay needs to come back to his natural style, ie, a free stroking player and not block everything. If left and right opening combination needs to work well, they need to keep taking singles as well, making the bowlers change their line continuously. Dravid used blunt the bowlers and make it easy for the batsman comes down the order. So, two of top 3 needs to stay put and blunt the SA attack, even if they do not score lot of runs, will make it easy for Kohli and Rohit to score what is required later.

  • Testcricketistop on December 17, 2013, 0:44 GMT

    Morne Morkel is one of those bowlers who means more to the team than to anybody else, his record will never be phenomenal, his statistics look decidedly average when comparing him to Steyn and Philander, however when you start looking at other teams and the records of modern day pace bowlers then all of a sudden his record does not look that woeful at all.

    Yes he is MR Niceguy, yes he doesn't have a record comparative to Steyn, but you can make a case that at least half. The test nations out there would welcome him in their team.

  • Alexk400 on December 16, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    Morkel is ineffective for long time. It is just that no one is good to replace him.

  • on December 16, 2013, 20:49 GMT

    Don't care what is the scoreline will be at the end of this 2 test series (seriously it ought to have been a 5 test series), but I would love Pujara and Kohli to play classic and orthodox cricket and do well.

  • GermanPlayer on December 16, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    @Unomaas Success at domestic level does not mean success at International level in all cases. At the moment, Morkel is more than doing the Job. I am sure he can walk into any team as 1st seamer(in SA he is the third seamer!).

  • GermanPlayer on December 16, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    The warm-up game was washed out? LOL. India better gear up for a thrashing.

  • Gareth_Bain on December 16, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    @Unomaas: South African first class stats are highly misleading as they include 2nd team matches, which are of a far lower standard. Have a look at BJ Pelser and Qaasim Adams for two examples of many of players with phenomenal stats because they play at that lower level predominantly. Franchise-only records for the bowlers you mentioned: Gqamane Ave 21.5 s/r 35.4; Hendricks ave 20.8 s/r 36.5; Paterson ave 33.5 s/r 55.3; Leie (who's a spinner) ave 33.1 s/r 51.5; Viljoen ave 25.9, s/r 40.8; Dry has good stats but has only played 3 matches at franchise level. So yes, at this point Paterson is only a fringe player but has wonderful stats because of playing in the lower leagues - I will say he has promise though.

  • Haz95 on December 16, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    Morne in my books is the icing on the cake...an economy of 1.5 or so in a spinning wicket where 2 centurys were scored is still something special. Tho Morne is not the wicket taker anymore, he still provides crucial support...My test batsmen(of my limited SA knowledge) 1.A Peterson(who hopefully will justify being part of such a strong line up), 2.G Smith, 3.H Amla, 4.J Kallis, 5.AB De Villiers, 6. JP Duminy and on goes the tail...

  • BigINDFan on December 16, 2013, 19:37 GMT

    It will take a miracle like rain to prevent a 2-0 win for SA given this is an inexperienced Ind batting line up and sorely lacking bowling line up except Zak. MSD should insist that Ind get practice time in tours and not parrot what BCCI expects him to say. Either you take a tour seriously or don't play overseas. This preparation against the best Test side and a dangerous ODI team at home is not acceptable.

    Having said the above, play Ashwin as an all rounder and get A.Mishra to support Ojha. Spin is a good option against Amla and ABD in tests even on bouncy tracks.

    M. Vijay should loose the across the line shots and leave a lot outside off. If he focuses then he can prove critics wrong and justify his place ahead of Jaffer.

    Pujara is the key in this tour. If he plays to his full potential SA will have a tough time. Rohit is another key player. Rest are useless in SA tests as they will be found wanting like in the ODIs.

  • on December 16, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    Wtach out for M. Vijay .. he is going to thrive in these conditions!

  • Unomaas on December 16, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    Morne, I have never been a big fan of yours but I respect the contributions that you have made...especially in our ascendancy to number 1.

    I do however feel that your nice guy persona is seriously inhibiting your ability to scare batsmen and taking wickets at a more consistent rate. Morne...have you seen the stats of the up and coming SA pace men?

    A Gqamane Avge: 19.56 SR: 34.4 - BE Hendricks Avge: 20.51 SR: 37.4 - D Paterson Avge: 20.91 SR: 38.7 - E Leie Avge: 24.89 SR: 41.4 - H Viljoen Avge: 26.13 SR: 42.8 - C Dry Ave: 27.76 SR: 48.8

    Hendriks, Gqamane and Patterson are averaging 20-21 and have strike rates of 40-45. They are less than 25 years old and hungry for success. These guys are in the Dale Steyn territory! I can foresee that in the next 1-2 years, there is gonna be some serious competition for the 3 + 4 seamer spot in the SA attack at your expense. Keep in mind that you have De Lange and Abbott also nipping at your heels. Time to get NASTY Morne!

  • playitstraight on December 16, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Yeah, facing Steyn, Philander and Morkel one after the other is not easy at all. Steyn and Philander swing and seam it while Morkel bowls it short and fast. Dangerous trio.

    The key is to play with soft hands - this way, even if the ball takes the edge, it will not carry to slip but rather land short and even go to the boundary. This means 4 runs and avoiding a possible wicket! And I'm no expert, this is simply what I have heard a certain Sachin Tendulkar say about playing in South Africa :)

  • InsideHedge on December 16, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    He'll end his career with a good num of wickets only because he bowls in the modern era. Take a close look at his figures and they make poor reading: averages of 30+ in Oz, England, India and UAE, some in the 40s. All of them after multiple tours to these countries. As expected, he has a good record at home.

    However, when a batsman has a strong home record compared to away, he's instantly ridiculed. Bowlers, esp fast men get away with far too much scrutiny. No doubt Morkel will be a real handful at the Wanderers, he's also very difficult to score off in ODIs when he plays in SA with his steepling bounce.

    Good bowler but he'll never be a great; if he wants to be one he better start making waves NOW while he's in his 20s. As soon as he enters his 30s, he'll be in big trouble because there's nothing else to his bowling apart from pace, he doesn't have the skill set of Steyn, Anderson, Harris and Boult from the modern spearheads. Mind you, he's miles ahead of Ishant Sharma.

  • DeckChairand6pack on December 16, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    If India are going to compete in this series their batsmen are going to have to leave well and regularly. Not by attacking the SA bowlers from the get go. They will need a lot of patience and to know where their off stump is. A tall order and I reckon the Proteas hold all the aces and all the kings. But there is rain forecast so looks like time will be lost.

  • vivekjagan on December 16, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    india ll definitely falter.and may not win the series.but they need to learn from this tour and improve and do well in nz and england.

  • IAMGOD on December 16, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    This being a young team playing its first overseas series, I would be happy if 2 or more of the following happens: - India draw a test match! - Indians score more than 400 in any of the 4 innings - 1 or 2 five-for by an Indian Seamer - Ashwin not going more than 3 runs an over - Any of top 1-6 score a century for India - The opening pair survive 10 overs in any of the 4 innings

    What I don't want to happen: - All out for less than 100 - 2 innings-defeats - Panic mode change in the batting order (I doubt, Dhoni retains folks)

  • yvivekcb on December 16, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Everyone are going to witness a completely different approach from this Young Indian side. They are gonna rock. 1st test will be won by India, if rain doesn't spoil. GO INDIA GO!!!

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Considering the requirements of lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, skills, temperament, experience and form of Wasim Jaffer was required there. Jaffer should have been the first opener in the Test at Johannesburg. He is still easily the best Test openerin India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track there and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn, Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Sincerely believe that Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average off spin skills as sadly there will not be the supporting dusty tracks of home to help him out there. Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be there with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder..

  • ssenthil on December 16, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    Ashwin is considered as a threatening batsman by Morkel/SA. He anyway comes at No.8 whatever he scores. Let us see. Ashwin also a good player of short balls, easily pulling/hooking, so he may like to play here. Another favourite scoring shot is cut shot, so he will be a good batsman here. Virat is known for having problem against short balls in Tests. He was bounced by Fidel Edwards like anything in WI. Rohit is untested with bouncers in tests. So we have to wait and see. I don't think India scoring a 300 in any of 4 Innings they will play here. Even 250 is a good score for India.

  • Temuzin on December 16, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Actually given the lack of practice, adjusting and exposure. Indian batsmen are at a disadvantage. Even the only tour game was washed out depriving them from getting some adaptation. Hope they will fight it out. I am not expecting too much from them but if they come up good. then it will be great.

  • MCC_Tie on December 16, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Steyn's stats are freaky in this day and age... 41 wickets at 14 apiece. He is an all time great.

  • Beertjie on December 16, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Morkel is universally recognized as the most awkward customer to face in the SA line-up. Normal service will be resumed, despite rain delays.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 16, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    Morkel wont go down in the record books but many batsmen will testify that he is very uncomfortable to face. A great supporting Fast bowler, as a batsman once you've got through Styen and Phillander - you see him marking his run up, this is not pleasant.

  • AlpineWalker on December 16, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Seems like rain is going to have a say in the match.

  • Joe-car on December 16, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    This is not a criticism as such, but the problem that I have with Morkel is that he's too nice a bolwer for his own good. Being too a nice bolwer is a bit like an unselfish striker in soccer.

  • PSK_analyst on December 16, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Did I see Ashwin mentioned as a batsmen? that is some humour. Well, India is still a work in progress and SA is the pinnacle. This is a very young team and they have so far done extremely well at home with the spinners doing their job against Australia . This is an altogether different proposition where even a settled Indian line up had to struggle in their glory days. I hope the fans and the players take a blow to the chin and learn from their experiences for future overseas tours because it is going to be painful viewing for Indian fans .

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • PSK_analyst on December 16, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Did I see Ashwin mentioned as a batsmen? that is some humour. Well, India is still a work in progress and SA is the pinnacle. This is a very young team and they have so far done extremely well at home with the spinners doing their job against Australia . This is an altogether different proposition where even a settled Indian line up had to struggle in their glory days. I hope the fans and the players take a blow to the chin and learn from their experiences for future overseas tours because it is going to be painful viewing for Indian fans .

  • Joe-car on December 16, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    This is not a criticism as such, but the problem that I have with Morkel is that he's too nice a bolwer for his own good. Being too a nice bolwer is a bit like an unselfish striker in soccer.

  • AlpineWalker on December 16, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Seems like rain is going to have a say in the match.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 16, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    Morkel wont go down in the record books but many batsmen will testify that he is very uncomfortable to face. A great supporting Fast bowler, as a batsman once you've got through Styen and Phillander - you see him marking his run up, this is not pleasant.

  • Beertjie on December 16, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    Morkel is universally recognized as the most awkward customer to face in the SA line-up. Normal service will be resumed, despite rain delays.

  • MCC_Tie on December 16, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Steyn's stats are freaky in this day and age... 41 wickets at 14 apiece. He is an all time great.

  • Temuzin on December 16, 2013, 16:52 GMT

    Actually given the lack of practice, adjusting and exposure. Indian batsmen are at a disadvantage. Even the only tour game was washed out depriving them from getting some adaptation. Hope they will fight it out. I am not expecting too much from them but if they come up good. then it will be great.

  • ssenthil on December 16, 2013, 17:12 GMT

    Ashwin is considered as a threatening batsman by Morkel/SA. He anyway comes at No.8 whatever he scores. Let us see. Ashwin also a good player of short balls, easily pulling/hooking, so he may like to play here. Another favourite scoring shot is cut shot, so he will be a good batsman here. Virat is known for having problem against short balls in Tests. He was bounced by Fidel Edwards like anything in WI. Rohit is untested with bouncers in tests. So we have to wait and see. I don't think India scoring a 300 in any of 4 Innings they will play here. Even 250 is a good score for India.

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Considering the requirements of lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, skills, temperament, experience and form of Wasim Jaffer was required there. Jaffer should have been the first opener in the Test at Johannesburg. He is still easily the best Test openerin India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track there and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn, Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Sincerely believe that Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average off spin skills as sadly there will not be the supporting dusty tracks of home to help him out there. Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be there with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder..

  • yvivekcb on December 16, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Everyone are going to witness a completely different approach from this Young Indian side. They are gonna rock. 1st test will be won by India, if rain doesn't spoil. GO INDIA GO!!!