South African fast bowler Morne Morkel has announced his intention to retire from international cricket after the Test series against Australia ends next month.
Morkel has been a loyal servant for South Africa for over a decade, playing in 83 Test matches, 117 One-Day Internationals and 44 Twenty20s and has taken a total of 529 wickets for his country, including 294 Test wickets – a total he will look to take past the 300 mark in his final series and one that crowns him the fifth highest Test wicket taker in South Africa’s history.
The 33-year-old has been a feared part of South Africa’s pace attack, starring alongside the likes of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada and made the announcement ahead of Thursday’s first Test against Australia in Durban.
“It was an extremely tough decision but I feel the time is right to start a new chapter,” said Morkel. “I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding international schedule has put a lot of strain us. I have to put them first and this decision will only benefit us going forward.
“I have loved every minute that I have played in the Proteas jersey, and I am incredibly grateful to my team mates, Cricket South Africa, and my family and friends for the support over the years. I still feel there is a lot of cricket left in me and I am excited for what lies ahead. For now, all of my energy and focus is on helping the Proteas win the upcoming series against Australia.”
It was heavily rumoured last year that multiple counties were interested in offering Morkel a Kolpak deal similar to the ones Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw sensationally quit international cricket for last year, with the likes of Yorkshire and Surrey reportedly among the frontrunners.
Morkel would be the latest in a long list of Kolpak signings made by English counties over the past two seasons since the UK’s decision to leave the EU may lead to the trade deal which allows Kolpak players to qualify as non-overseas signings to come to an end. As such many South African’s have had to choose between representing their country and guaranteeing their livelihood and Morkel is expected to be the latest, most high-profile and most sought-after of those cricketers.