Morne Morkel went wicketless after four overs in his first ODI in nearly a year © Getty Images
South Africa may be willing to bench their most experienced bowler, Morne Morkel, in the Champions Trophy, in favor of an allrounder and a shorter tail. Morkel, who was included in the squad despite not having played an ODI since June 2016, made his comeback in the third match against England, and bowled four overs at first change without taking any wickets.
Although coach Russell Domingo was pleased to have the pacer back, he admitted there may not always be room for him. “It’s a catch-22 situation because having Morne there might strengthen our bowling, it gives us more of a tail not having the three allrounders,” Domingo said. “It’s his first one-day international for a while and it’s good to have him back. He’s had a long-term injury layoff, and the bowlers that have played in his place have done really well.”
The game Morkel played in was the only one of the three-match series that South Africa won, though he cannot claim to be the reason for their success. Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell, who reduced England to 20 for 6, appear to be the first-choice new-ball pair. The duo opened the bowling in the first match, and Parnell had been the most successful partner to Rabada in the 10 ODIs played after Kyle Abbott’s international retirement, which has effectively pushed other options behind in the queue. Those include Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo – all big-hitting allrounders, who South Africa hope can add late runs on surfaces that are expected to produce big totals.
Pitches in England have become a lot more batting-friendly in recent times, as evidenced in the first two ODIs where they racked up 339 and 330. Domingo thinks that is because it suits the hosts’ current style of play.
“That’s the way England bat at times – if there is something in the wicket, and you land the ball in the right areas and they nick the ball, you’ve got a chance against them because they play that expansive brand of cricket. On flatter wickets, they’re going to be hell of a dangerous,” he said. “But the bowlers will always have a chance against them when there’s something in the wicket because of the way they’re going about their batting at the moment.”
South Africa will not meet England in the group stage of the Champions Trophy, where they are pooled with Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, but could come up against them in the knockouts, where England will hold the psychological advantage having won the series 2-1. Still, South Africa were pleased with their preparation leading into their opening game against Sri Lanka at the Oval on Sunday. “There were a lot of benefits and positives that we can take forward into the Champions Trophy so we’re pretty happy with the way things have panned out for us,” Domingo said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo