K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Ahmedabad: A potent combination of big hitting and fast bowling has forced South African all-rounder Albie Morkel to cope with the giant shadow cast by Lance Klusener.
Comparisons with Klusener are part of Morkel’s staple diet but the 26-year old left-hand batsman and right-arm fast bowler, is equal to the task. “There is no extra pressure. But when I am called the next Lance Klusener, those are big shoes to fill. But I don’t see myself as the next Lance Klusener, I want to be my own man. I play my own game,” Albie said.
The Klusener connection was evident on Sunday at Rajkot, Albie got Manoj Tiwary fending a nasty short-pitched delivery straight to the wicketkeeper T. Tsolekile. He also scalped Suresh Raina.
And later while chasing India ‘A’s 290, Albie kept South Africa ‘A’ in the hunt with a blistering 61 peppered with clean hits high into the stands. However the visitor fell short by just one run.
As a bowler, Albie’s final delivery stride and action are also pointers to another great South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock. Queried on the Pollock factor, Albie said: “I didn’t model my action on Shaun Pollock. That action is mine and it’s easy on my body but Shaun is a great all-rounder and if I look like him on the field, I am very happy.”
Albie was part of the South African side that lost to India by 37 runs in a crucial match of the Twenty20 World Championship. “Twenty20 is fast, furious and exciting cricket and it was a good experience. We lost out a bit early, not making the semifinals, beaten by India. They were the better team,” Albie said.
No sibling rivalry
Albie, besides the obvious references to Klusener and Pollock, has also to contend with younger brother Morne Morkel for a spot in the South African side. Sibling rivalry? “Not at all. Morne is a mean aggressive opening bowler while I am an all-rounder. There is no competition and it is not often that two brothers play together and that makes it special,” Albie said. Albie is banking on his big hits to revive his career at the international level that so far has featured 12 ODIs yielding 182 runs and 11 wickets.
“My strength is that I have the capability to hit the ball hard. I am quite an aggressive batsman and I can be used at the top of the order or in the end overs when quick runs are required when I can play my kind of game,” Albie said.