Fast bowler Morne Morkel had a look of sweet satisfaction as he spoke to the media after South Africa’s crushing innings victory over Zimbabwe at St George’s Park on Wednesday.
Morkel had had limited opportunities for game time leading into the day-night pink-ball test.
After playing in the first test against Bangladesh earlier in the summer, Morkel withdrew from the Proteas squad with a side strain.
He was out for six weeks and then could not make a Titans side that went on to win the Ram Slam T20.
He did play in the one round-robin game the Titans lost to the Dolphins when they played their “second- stringers”.
So to get some overs under the belt, Morkel resorted to playing in a provincial game for Easterns against Eastern Province in Benoni and picked up a five-wicket haul.
He would probably not have played against Zimbabwe had Dale Steyn not been withdrawn because of illness.
But he took his chance by grabbing a first-innings five-wicket haul and almost becomes a certainty for the first test against India in Cape Town staring next Friday.
“It was quite frustrating, six weeks with the side strain,” Morkel said yesterday.
“But the most important thing was to get it sorted as soon as possible.
“I was ready to play four or five weeks ago, but unfortunately did not get much game time with the quality side the Titans had.
“I did a lot of training in the nets in Cape Town on the pitches there, but it’s nice to get some game time.
“I played in an amateur game and got five wickets, which was a nice return for me. That was sort of a build-up for me to this test match.
“To get the results on a few things I’ve worked on for the past couple of weeks is just great.”
Morkel said the secret to his success was bowling a slightly fuller length, allowing the ball to do more through the air.
“The one thing I have been working on is to get that fuller length. I just think conditions last night required me that touch fuller. The ball was moving around quite a lot and I felt on this sort of surface, the harder I hit the pitch, the slower it was coming off the deck.
“It was almost a plan to kiss the deck a little bit and let it move off the seam.
“I think we summed up those conditions quite well last night.” Five-wicket hauls have eluded Morkel. In his 80 test matches, he has taken only seven and his previous one was against Australia five years ago.