Former South African fast bowler Morne Morkel has signed a two-year contract with Surrey. Morkel will slot into Surrey’s setup as a Kolpak registered player and will be available to play in all three formats of the game.
Having retired only a few weeks ago from international cricket, several English counties had expressed their interest in roping in the big South African, but Surrey possessed the most financial muscle and his presence will encourage hopes that they can press for their first Championship since 2002.
Morkel called time on his international career at the end of what was a controversial Test series against Australia, but one in which he became only the fifth South African bowler to bag 300 Test wickets. He also took the Man of the Match award in his penultimate Test, fittingly on his home ground at Cape Town, for his match-winning figures of 9 for 110.
Known for generating genuine pace and bounce, Morkel is likely to extract the best out of The Oval’s otherwise gentle surface. The presence of another South African Kolpak in county cricket will invite criticism, but Surrey are rightly proud of their largely homegrown staff.
“It is a real honour that Surrey asked me to join after my retirement from international cricket,” Morkel said. “I’ve got fond memories of playing at the Kia Oval and am looking forward to settling into London with my family for the summer.”
Although he arrives on Wednesday, Morkel is not expected to take to the field in Surrey’s opening home fixture against Hampshire which begins on April 20. With his deal with Surrey confirmed, the paceman joins a list of current South African cricketers who will feature in this year’s county season, including Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn.