Morkel's allround brilliance stuns Warriors
Morne Morkel warmed up for South Africa's international season with a superb allround performance for the Titans, who comprehensively beat the Warriors by 196 runs. In a low-scoring contest at East London, Morkel took career-best figures of 6 for 47 as the Warriors slumped to 119 all out, conceding a first-innings deficit of 71. The Titans struggled in their second innings, however, falling to 91 for 8 until Morkel took the attack to the Warriors with a brisk 82, putting on 107 for the ninth wicket with Bashee Walters. Chasing 274, the Warriors were never in the contest, and Morkel capped a remarkable allround match by taking 5 for 9 in eight menacing overs - gaining prodigious pace and bounce. The Warriors were blown away for just 77 as the Titans recorded their first win of the season.
Thandi Tshabalala and Con de Lange each took five wickets in the Eagles' 77-run win over the Lions at Bloemfontein. Tshabalala was the star with the bat, too, cracking 55 from 88 in the Eagles' 329, consolidating on Boeta Dippenaar's turgid 93 from 240 balls. Tshabalala then picked up 3 for 48 as the Lions were bowled out for a paltry 171 - Matthew Harris top-scoring with a resilient 35. However, the Lions fought back impressively - Cliff Deacon led the way with 5 for 38, as the Eagles crashed to 158. Nevertheless, the Eagles' set their opponents a stiff target of 317, and only Neil McKenzie (51) and Jean Symes (50) staved off the probing line of de Lange who finished with 4 for 64.
A batsman's paradise at Paarl forced a draw between the Cape Cobras and the Dolphins, both sides compiling big first innings. Jon Kent cracked 110, well-supported by HD Ackerman and Daryn Smit who each hit 70s in the Dolphins' 435 for 9. In reply, the Cape Cobras lost a couple of early wickets- including Herschelle Gibbs for a typically cavalier 46 - before JP Duminy (138) and Henry Davids (80) put on 198 for the third wicket. Justin Ontong cracked 51, too, as the Cape Cobras stole a first-innings lead of 41. But with so much time taken up in the match, a draw was the only likely prospect.
Player of the weekDale Steyn has done it for South Africa in fits and starts, but the hope is that Morne Morkel can be a dominant force on all surfaces, against all opposition. He shone occasionally on the England tour this year, demonstrating his back-of-a-length tactics and natural pace, but lacked the consistency required. Back on duty for Titans, he has warmed up for South Africa's international season with a quite memorable performance this week, taking eleven wickets and smashing a career-best 82. The prospect of he and Steyn tearing into Australia in December is not for the faint hearted. But can he show the consistency South Africa crave from him?