In a country known for flat tracks,seven of the top eight wicket-takers at the end of IPL 5s league stage are pacers. And towering above them all with 25 wickets is Delhi Daredevils South African fast bowler,the six-foot-five Morne Morkel. Despite the good times they seem to be enjoying,Morkel,in an interview with The Indian Express,says fast bowlers must leave their egos back home while playing T20 cricket. Excerpts:
Delhi have what is arguably the best fast bowling line-up this season. While the key bowlers were around last year,the team didnt do as well. How did the turnaround happen?
Last year when we were doing badly,I told everyone give this line-up a year or so and we will dominate, and thats exactly what we have done. The more experienced the boys get,the better it will be. We are growing every game and if we can keep this unit together one more year,I promise we will be untouchable.
When the Delhi squad was picked for the season,everybody talked about the batting line-up of foreign superstars but you became the first certainty in the side. How does it feel to cement a place as a bowler when everyone is talking about batsmen?
Its a special feeling. When I started off for the IPL,I realised with the quality we have,I might get only a handful of games,so I needed to grab my opportunities. Thankfully,the wind is blowing the right way for me,but theres no complacency. I have to be on top of the game every day to get a permanent slot. I knew if I didnt get it right,not many would point at me because its a batsmans game,but I wanted to prove myself and am happy to have done my bit.
Off the field,theres Eric Simmons and TA Sekar to advise the bowlers. But you have unofficially donned the coachs role during matches.
Its always good to be standing next to the bowler,clear his mind,tell him to focus on the next ball and calm his nerves. You can be put under great pressure in 24 balls. How you handle those moments is crucial. My job is to keep talking to the bowlers when times are bad,tell them it is okay. I remember when I was under pressure,it was always nice to have a guy next to me and tell me feel-good things.
There were many Indian bowlers who came in promising to bowl quick but fizzled away. Do you think Indians can bowl fast consistently and there will be a change in perception?
In India,they play non-stop cricket,and these guys bowl a great amount. To play and bowl fast consistently,you need to have a window of two months where these bowlers are told,they are not going to bowl at all and only do strengthening and gym work. I cant see why India cant produce or compete with the best fast bowlers. They have Umesh,Varun Awana is bowling real quick and you have Dinda. Its a question of managing these guys. Thats how we have gone about in South Africa,whatever cricket I play,I dont remember missing a Test match for South Africa.
A fast bowler has a big ego. Does it hurt when you play T20 where the batsmen treat you with contempt?
The most important thing for a fast bowler is to remember that when you enter the field,you must expect that you can go for runs on that day and guys can play with your ego. You try not to look too much into it,but if you are caught up in those things,you are going the wrong way. They can reverse sweep,or sweep you,even me. Things like that have happened. T20 is a great entertaining for crowd,and thats what I tell myself and forget about it.
Finally,a question on your interesting run-up. you like to jog a bit,turn and then approach the batsman. Is that a superstition or anything else?
The practice started years ago,I dont like standing still on top of mark when I have to start. I am quite tall and my run-up is not the longest,so I like a bit of turn and get running before I hit my mark. Its about clearing my mind as I turn and get a bit of momentum. There is nothing superstitious about it.