If any bowler has contributed significantly to almost every one of his team’s victories in this edition of the IPL, it has to be Morne Morkel. The South African pacer, playing for the Delhi Daredevils, has had an irrefutable influence in Delhi’s performance this year, which sees them sitting pretty among the top four – they have lost only 3 of the 10 games that they have played so far. Morkel has been one of the more dependable bowlers this season, consistently delivering for the team, proof of which was his possession of the ‘purple cap’ for a long while before it was passed on to Lasith Malinga, who is tied with Morne at 20 wickets.
The lanky seamer is also one of the bowlers responsible for South Africa’s ascendancy and recent success. The trio of Morkel, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander is regarded as the best bowling unit in world cricket today. Morkel has had a genuine impact on every team that he has represented. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the South African talked about his experience in the IPL, his rivalry with brother Albie, and many other topics.
How did you get introduced to the world of cricket?
My father played provincial cricket, and so did my two older brothers – Malan and Albie. So I was introduced to the game very early in my life. Hailing from a family that has always been very interested and involved in sport, we started to play cricket from a very young age.
Has there ever been a feeling of sibling rivalry between you and Albie? If yes, has that rivalry always been constructive?
When Albie and I were growing, it was more about us sharing a passion for cricket than anything else. It almost never felt like we were competing against each other. But whenever the competitive spirit did arise, it helped us both improve our games. When one of us did well, the other wanted to perform just as well. It was productive, as we always wanted to perform better than the other; in that way, it was a positive experience for us both.
Who was your childhood cricketing hero and why?
I have always admired Glenn McGrath. He is a great bowler and I really admire the way he went about his game and consistently bowled with so much precision.
How has your experience in the IPL been? How has it been being a part of the Delhi Daredevils outfit?
I’ve really enjoyed playing in the IPL over the past few years. It has been fantastic to share the dressing room with other international players. It has been a great experience to get to know them off the field, and it is only fair to say that I have learned a lot from my team mates. I have enjoyed being a part of the Delhi Daredevils. They are such a good bunch of guys and all of us work really well together. It is great to have guys like Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Roelof van der Merwe and Ross Taylor (to mention just a few) in the same team.
You share the highest number of wickets with Malinga this IPL – what have you done right in order to have put up such a strong performance this season?
I have been training really hard and I’ve put a lot of work into my bowling these past few years. Fundamentally, it all comes down to hard work. I have also been lucky to receive a lot of guidance and support from my coaches. It is great to have had the purple cap but I’m not focusing on that; I just want to continue to bowl well and contribute to my team’s victories.
How does the team culture develop in the IPL, given the fact that everyone comes from different backgrounds? How different is that from the South African team culture?
An IPL team is not different from any other team; we as team members are there to win the game and our focus is on performing to our potential on the day. That said, playing in the IPL does presents an opportunity to learn from others and think about approaching the game in a different way. We are constantly learning from each other, which really broadens our perspectives and enhances our experience of the game.
While playing against each other in the IPL, are Albie and you raring to get the better of each other? What do you guys say to each other before a game?
The best part about playing against each other is that we both get to experience what it feels like to play in the IPL, and we can share our different experiences to help improve our respective games. We are very fortunate to play at the same time in the IPL for such great teams. Of course, we sometimes joke with each other off the field about one-upping each other, but that only helps spur both of us on. Our primary focus is always on performing the best we can on the day and doing the best we can do on the field for our respective teams, but at the same time, we also make sure to enjoy and have a great time.
What according to you is the greatest opportunity the IPL provides?
The IPL not only provides the opportunity to play for such a great tournament, meet wonderful fans and improve one’s performance on the T20 circuit, but it also gives a player the chance to really get to know international stars and different cultures. I have been exposed to so much while playing for the IPL, and that is an added incentive to doing what I love to do – playing cricket.
What has been your favourite cricketing moment while playing for South Africa?
There are too many to mention! The last few years have been incredible for us. It was a great moment when we won the Test series in Australia and the Test series win in England was fantastic too. We’ve played some really good cricket in the past few years and it is always a proud moment for me to represent South Africa.
How has bowling alongside Dale Steyn helped you develop your game?
Dale is a good friend and a great bowler. I’ve learned a lot from him and we always support and motivate each other. He has taught me a lot and he has definitely helped develop my game significantly.
If there was one thing from your past that you could do differently, what would it be and why?
I wouldn’t change a single thing I have done till today. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that everything that I have done has made me the man and bowler I am today. I try not to focus on the past.
Where do you see South African cricket headed in the next 5 years? How much of a part do you see yourself playing in that future?
I predict great things for South African cricket in the near future. Our team has always been very strong in the past, and I think it will continue to strengthen in the future. There is a great bunch of youngsters coming through with new skills and abilities, supported by innovative coaches leading the way. I hope to play for South Africa for many more years, and I hope to always be a part of South African cricket in some way or the other.