Morkel: I wanted to go out on a high

Cape Town - The shine was taken off Morne Morkel after day two of the third Test between the Proteas and Australia at Newlands when Darren Lehmann used his press conference to blast the Newlands crowd.

But, when all of the off-field dust has settled, this will always go down as the Test that saw Morkel make history. 

The 33-year-old finished with figures of 4/87 on the day, but it was his third wicket that was of most importance. 

That took Morkel to 300 Test wickets as he became only the fifth South African in history to get to that milestone. 

It wasn't always a guarantee, especially after Morkel was dropped for the second Test in Port Elizabeth. 

Lungi Ngidi, Morkel's replacement, impressed in that match but then suffered a toe injury in the build-up to Newlands that let Morkel back in. 

Now, he has joined Shaun Pollock (421), Dale Steyn (419), Makhaya Ntini (390) and Allan Donald (330) in South Africa’s '300 club'.

"It's a special feeling, especially because I'm the world record holder for no balls. I had to turn and check for each of the wickets today," Morkel joked afterwards.

"To eventually reach it is something I've worked hard towards for a long time and to get it at this amazing venue makes it even better."

Morkel acknowledged that, after being dropped for PE, he had considered that it might have been the end of the road for him.

"You think about those sorts of things, especially with Lungi bowling so well. Luckily for me I got an opportunity and I knew that this was my Test match to do it," he said.

"I put a lot of hard work in over the week after PE and sat down for hours analysing my Durban spells. I'm just glad I got the rewards today."

The celebrations that followed the dismisal of Shaun Marsh to take Morkel to 300 and bring Newlands to its feet were something special. 

"It's a bit of a blur," Morkel recalled.

"It meant a lot to get that wicket. I had to work hard. I wasn't blessed with that natural talent to run up and hit a length, so for me over the 12 years was a lot of hard work. To get that is an achievement and I'm proud of myself.

"Every time I walk onto the field and get the ball in my hand, that for me is special."

Morkel has announced that he will be retiring from international cricket at the end of the series, and he confirmed that he would not be going back on that decision.

"Mentally, I'm still feeling fantastic," he said.

"For the future, I'm still feeling good and I can still play for a couple of years, but it is a family decision.

"Once you've made your mind up, you can't really turn back on that decision. I'd rather go out on a high now than have a couple of average games."

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