BY MARCUS HOOK
Morne Morkel believes Surrey have what it takes to win the County Championship.
The South Londoners are 22 points clear at the top of the Division One table and have played a game less than nearest rivals Nottinghamshire.
Surrey have racked up four straight championship victories – the latest a seven-wicket win over Yorkshire.
But fast bowler Morkel, 33, played down his part in the triumph despite his crucial second innings 5-39. The South African said: “It was my day, but Jade Dernbach bowled well last game and Rikki Clarke the game before that.
“All in all, it was a fantastic team effort. We enjoy each other’s success, and that’s what’s making this a quality team. The way the guys have been training, it is a trophy-winning side. It is just a matter of guys staying fit, us going to the back end of the competition and still being mentally fresh to go on and win a trophy.
“It was hard work at Scarborough. I felt the wicket slowed up a bit. On the first morning there was a bit of extra zip. So, for us, it was important to get the ball in the right area. The way we bowled, our intensity, we asked questions non-stop and got the rewards.
“But it’s the way we’ve played this season. Guys are putting their hands up and performing.
“Sam Curran is a typical 20-year-old, who plays with no fear and doesn’t over-think the game. Will Jacks is a fantastic player and reminds me a bit of a mix between Jason Roy and Kevin Pietersen – a very aggressive sort of batsman. I predict a great future for him
“Ollie Pope has impressed me a hell of a lot. Popey has done it before under pressure and again at Scarborough. For a youngster to stand up and show that maturity, it’s amazing.”
Pope, 20, who made an equally important 69 not out to give Surrey a foothold going into day three at Scarborough, has now made 654 championship runs at an average of 93.42.
Morkel is in year one of a two-year deal. On getting his first five-wicket haul for Surrey, he said: “There’s always added pressure of coming into a new club. You want to perform and do well. So I’m very happy I got the results.
“But you can only get them if you have a quality bowling attack. The way the unit has bowled has been
exceptional. We’re working well in partnerships.
“I could have still played international cricket for another three or four years, if I wanted to. For me it is important to play a high standard of cricket. I still feel mentally and physically fit to play white-ball and red-ball cricket.
“First-class cricket in England is of the highest quality. You have very strong local players, international guys and overseas players.”
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