Albie Morkel’s top-class century to win the Momentum One-Day Cup final for the Unlimited Titans was not only a dream come true for the all-rounder but also a strong reminder to coaches that being a brilliant finisher does not mean a batsman should be consigned to a role only in the closing overs of a limited-overs match.
Morkel came to the crease in the final at Newlands with the Titans in trouble on 60 for four chasing 286, but he and Dean Elgar, who also scored a century, shared a record-breaking partnership of 195 off 189 balls to set up a phenomenal victory which the veteran finished off in style with a magnificent 134 not out off 103 balls.
“It was a big day in my life, I was quite emotional but I kept it deep inside on the field. Coach Rob Walter and I had discussed at the start of the season what’s left for me in my career and I reset my goals. One of them was to score a 50-over century and another was to be man of the match in a final.
“Batting at six or seven, you don’t often get the opportunity to score a hundred, it has to be quick, but to do it in a final and to be man of the match, both of them together was really special, a dream come true. I scratched around a bit at the beginning, but then something clicked and I just seemed to be in the zone, my senses all became so clear and I was seeing the ball really well,” Morkel told The Citizen on Monday.
The left-hander’s innings was similar to that of David Miller’s in South Africa’s World Cup opener against Zimbabwe and Morkel said he hoped these performances helped convince coaches to give so-called power-hitters a greater piece of the action.
“With the new batting powerplay and only four fielders allowed out at the end, coaches tend to keep key batsmen back for that but I’ve never understood it because as a batsman you like to get in and you need the opportunity to do that. Your success rate drops when you have less time at the crease and David Miller showed what can be done when you give a batsman enough time and don’t keep him back.
“Both David and I came in in a situation where the team was in big trouble, but it gives you the luxury to just go in and bat. I knew I must just not get out, I must be there at the end and then you can really cash in,” Morkel said.
The 33-year-old also showed the value of his experience in a Titans side full of youngsters and Morkel said he is determined to return the franchise to the heights of the mid-to-late 2000s, when they won seven domestic trophies.
“The Titans needed that win because we’ve had a seesaw season and it was even more important for the changeroom because obviously they will now believe they can win more trophies. I still want to play my best cricket, in the past I made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on getting into the national team. My focus now is on getting myself back to my best form and winning games for the Titans. That’s where the enjoyment comes, in that changeroom environment.
“At this stage, I’m playing the role of a senior, there are lots of young guys coming through and they need a lot of help. I often chat with David Wiese and the young bowlers,” Morkel said.