Morkel brothers honoured for outstanding season

Brothers Albie and Morne Morkel were among the five Mutual & Federal Cricket Annual cricketers of the year named at a banquet in Johannesburg on Monday night.

Also honoured were Warriors off-spinner Johan Botha, Eagles fast bowler Dillon du Preez and Cape Cobras fast bowler Monde Zondeki.

All-rounder Albie Morkel and his fast bowler sibling, both from the Titans franchise, are the first brothers to be honoured in the same year since Athol and Eric Rowan in 1952—the first year in which the South African cricket annual was published.

Other brothers who have been recognised subsequently, although not in the same year, are Peter and Gary Kirsten, Peter and Robbie Muzzell and Peter and Graeme Pollock.

The Morkel brothers made their mark in different ways during the past year.

Albie Morkel established himself in the South African one-day team as a potential successor to Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock as a hard-hitting lower-order batsman and wicket-taking bowler.

Albie’s big hitting made him a key player in Twenty20 cricket and he attracted the second-highest bid for any South African in the Indian Premier League. He justified his $675 000 fee by helping the Chennai Super Kings reach the final.

At home, Albie helped the Titans win both the MTN Domestic Championship and the Standard Bank Pro20. He also had a successful season in the SuperSport Series.

Morne Morkel, due to his height, added an extra dimension to the South African Test bowling attack with his pace and bounce.
He was South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in their historic Test series win in England earlier this year.

Botha, who was recently named vice-captain of the South African one-day team, produced a string of consistent performances for the Proteas with his accurate off-spin bowling and effective lower-order batting efforts.

It was a triumph of determination and hard work by Botha, who had to re-model his bowling action after being out of international cricket for more than a year after being reported for having a suspect action when he made his Test debut against Australia in January 2006.

Du Preez had an outstanding season for the Eagles franchise, spearheading his team’s surge to the SuperSport Series title with his accurate new-ball bowling. He topped the competition wicket-takers with 55 at an excellent average of only 16,90 runs each. A capable lower-order batsman, he also contributed a century against the Cape Cobras.

Du Preez and Zondeki were involved in a season-long race for the honour of heading the wickets list, with Zondeki finishing one behind his rival. Zondeki’s 54 wickets for the Cape Cobras included five five-wicket hauls. He had a sixth five-wicket “bag” in helping South Africa A beat the touring West Indians.

Zondeki’s performances earned him a recall to the South African team for the tours of India and England.—Sapa

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