Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel described picking up his 300th Test wicket as a “special feeling” after reaching the milestone on the second day of the third Test against Australia at Newlands on Friday.
The lanky paceman, who was playing in his 85th Test, came into the game on 297 scalps in the longest format and first took the wickets of Usman Khawaja and Australia captain Steve Smith.
The 33-year-old then became the just the fifth Proteas bowler to take 300 Test wickets when he had Shaun Marsh caught behind by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in the second session.
Morkel, who made his international debut in 2006, joined Shaun Pollock (421), Dale Steyn (419), Makhaya Ntini (390) and Allan Donald (330) as the other South Africa bowlers to the milestone.
When speaking to reporters after the day’s play, Morkel said: “It’s a special feeling. To eventually reach it was something I worked for a long time and to do it at this amazing venue made it even better.
“I wasn’t blessed with that natural talent to run up and hit a length so for me over the 12 years it was a lot of hard work and I am proud of myself to get that milestone.”
It is also significant milestone for Morkel as he had announced that he would be retiring after the four-match series against the Aussies and it looked as if the paceman might not reach the 300-wickets mark.
Morkel was dropped after the first Test defeat in Durban but came back into the team after Lungi Ngidi, who bowled well in the second Test victory in Port Elizabeth, was not 100 per cent fit due a toe niggle.
When asked if he thought the opportunity to go out on a high might pass him by, Morkel said: “Definitely, you think about those kinds of things, especially with Lungi and the guys playing so well.
“Luckily for me, I got the opportunity with Lungi picking up a niggle and I knew this was my Test match to do it.
“I put a lot of hard work in over the week. In PE, I sat down for hours and analysed my Durban spells to see what I could improve on and worked hard. I’m glad I got the reward today.”
By Nasri Alexander at Newlands
What do we want? More switch hits. When do we want them? Soon.
The Aussies are taking over.
Gillespie strikes again.
Maybe they’re not so bad, after all.
Haseeb Hameed: what went wrong, and what happens next?
‘Boundary countback’ is no more.
India broke Australia’s record for the most consecutive Test series wins.
Andy Flower is leaving the England and Wales Cricket Board after 12 years.
Giles backs Ben Stokes after altercation allegations.