Denijs Paul Beck Morkel
January 25, 1906, Plumstead, Cape Town, Cape Province
October 06, 1980, Nottingham, England, (aged 74y 255d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast medium
Morkel, Denys Paul Beck, died suddenly in hospital at Nottingham on October 6, 1980, aged 74. He first appeared for South Africa against Capt. R. T. Stanyforth's MCC side in 1927-28, when he played in all five Tests, but, though he made some useful scores, he met with no particular success and his bowling was hardly used. It was on the tour of England in 1929 that he showed his real possibilities. In first-class matches he scored 1,443 runs with an average of 34.35 and took 69 wickets at 26.01. In the Tests he came second both in batting and bowling: at Lord's he made 88 and 17 not out and took seven wickets, at Old Trafford he scored 63 out of a total of 130 and at The Oval 81. Tall and well built he bowled fast medium away-swingers with an easy action and plenty of pace off the pitch, and was probably the best bowler in the team. A fine driver on the both sides of the wicket, he was inclined to be impetuous but had, as he showed at Lord's, a solid defence when required. He was also a good slip. A great future seemed in store for him and that winter he helped S. S. L. Steyn to put on 222 for the eighth wicket for Western Province v Border, still a South African record. But he had already decided to settle in England and so was not available to play against the MCC side in 1930-31. However he was a member in 1931-32 of the South African team to Australia, where he was a sad disappointment. As a batsman he could never get going in the Tests and his bowling was a complete failure. Only in the last match against Western Australia, not then the power they have since become, did he show his best form, scoring 150 not out and taking eight for 13 in the second innings. In extenuation it must be said that he was in poor health at the beginning of the tour and that he also had trouble with his bowling action. This was the end of his Test career. In 1932 Sir Julien Cahn helped him to establish a business in the motor trade in Nottingham, which became a flourishing concern. For Sir Julien between 1932 and 1939 he made nearly 10,000 runs and took over 400 wickets. During the War he served in the Army. His brother, Ray, also played for Western Province and at one time showed promise of being the better bowler of the two.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
The death of Denys Paul Beck Morkel only two months after that of Jack Cheetham sees the passing of a second great Western Province cricket product. Morkel, who died on October 6, played relatively little Currie Cup cricket, though he averaged 46.96 in his 30 innings and took 46 wickets with his fast bowling at an average of 26.65. His first century came in 1928-29, against Orange Free State, and in the following season, as captain of WP, he hit 208 not out against Natal. This was the season in which he (114) and left-hander S. S. L. Steyn (261 not out) put on 222 for the eighth wicket against Border at Cape Town, still a South African record.
The first of his 16 Test appearances came against England in the 1927-28 series, when after taking Holmes's wicket in his first over, he hardly distinguished himself in any of the five matches. But in England in 1929 the tall, handsome Springbok emerged as the best allrounder, enjoying Lord's with innings of 88 in the Test and 70 against MCC, and taking 7 for 61 against Middlesex. Seven of his 14 wickets in the series came at Lord's, where he plucked out Killick, Hammond and O'Connor in a fiery opening spell. In fact all 14 of his wickets were prestigious, Hammond, Sutcliffe, Duleep, Hendren several times among them.
On the tour he made 1443 runs at 34.35 and took 69 wickets at 26.01. His sole hundred came against Yorkshire at Hull, and he made 63 (all but half the innings total) and 36 in the innings defeat at Old Trafford (Tich Freeman 12 wickets), and 81 at The Oval in the final Test. But the most fateful performance was 7 for 61 against millionaire Sir Julien Cahn's XI at West Bridgford near the end of the tour. Cahn invited him to play for his team, which toured out-of-the-way territories, and set him up in the motor trade in the Nottingham area. Morkel hit 251 in better than even time against the South American touring team in 1932.
He was to play six more times for his country, touring Australasia in 1931-32 as
South Africa's vice-captain; but he made only 98 runs in 10 Test innings, and did little bowling. He managed 70 not out against NSW, and took 27 wickets, only
two of them in the Tests, even if they were McCabe and Bradman. On the way home,
however, he took Perth by storm, batting at No. 8 and scoring 150 not out and then taking 8 for 13 against Western Australia. He was invited to play for the Gentlemen v the Players in 1931, 1932 and 1934 at The Oval, scoring 85 in the second match. Born in Cape Town on January 25, 1906, Denys Morkel was 74 at the time of his death in a Nottingham hospital. His wife Margery had died eighteen days previously.
Wisden Cricket Monthly
Batting & Fielding