South African fast bowler Morne Morkel has announced that the forthcoming series against Australia will be his last in international cricket. The 33-year-old fast bowler has played 83 Tests, 117 ODIs and 44 T20Is for the Proteas in an international career that began at the Boxing Day Test against India in 2006, reports cricbuzz.com.
Morkel put the decision to retire down to a young family and a demanding international schedule. "It was an extremely tough decision but I feel the time is right to start a new chapter. I have a young family and a foreign wife, and the current demanding international schedule has put a lot of strain on us. I have to put them first and this decision will only benefit us going forward.
"I have loved every minute that I have played in the Proteas jersey, and I am incredibly grateful to my team mates, Cricket South Africa, and my family and friends for the support over the years. I still feel there is a lot of cricket left in me and I am excited for what lies ahead. For now, all of my energy and focus is on helping the Proteas win the upcoming series against Australia."
Morkel played each of the three Tests and five of the six ODIs in the just-concluded series against India, taking 13 wickets at 20.00 in the Tests. He was scheduled to be rested for the Port Elizabeth ODI but a back injury to Chris Morris meant Morkel was called on to play. He picked up only two wickets from five games at an average of 103.
Morkel will have a chance to add to his 529 international wickets when the Australia series gets underway on March 1 with Durban hosting the first of the four-match Test series.
Cricket South Africa Acting CE, Thabang Moroe, praised Morkel's commitment and contribution towards South African cricket: "On Behalf of Cricket South Africa, I would like to thank Morne for the tremendous and highly valued contribution he has made to South African cricket over the past decade.
"He has been a regular selection for both the Test and ODI squads since 2008, having made his debut as far back as 2006. He has formed part of the golden era of fast bowlers that have made the South African Test team a champion outfit that is respected throughout the world.
"Being a champion fast bowler is one of the most difficult professions in the sporting world. It requires tremendous skill, dedication and perseverance and, by no means the least, the courage to bowl through the pain barrier at times. Those are characteristics Morne has shown throughout his career.
"Lastly, on behalf of the South African cricket family, our stakeholders and fans around the world, we thank Morne for being both a fine player and an outstanding role model who has made our country proud. We wish him everything of the best in his future endeavours."