Yorkshire v Surrey (day three): Hosts crumble as Morkel terrorises on his return

MORNE MORKEL, the Surrey fast bowler, bears more than a passing resemblance to the actor Fred Gwynne.

Surrey's Morne Morkel bowls at Scarborough.    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Surrey's Morne Morkel bowls at Scarborough. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Gwynne’s most famous character was Herman Munster, whom he played in the hit television series, The Munsters.

Indeed, if you were to stick a couple of bolts into Morkel’s neck and apply a touch of gothic make-up to him, you would probably end up with Morne Munster – a strong, powerful, loveable giant, just like Herman in the famous sitcom.

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Like Herman, Morkel is tall – 1.96 metres, to be precise, and a man whose natural affability is at odds with the fact that he inspires terror among the people that he meets: in Morkel’s case, among opposing batsmen as Yorkshire found out to their cost yesterday.

In this first appearance against his former club (Morkel played one match for Yorkshire in 2008 before succumbing to injury), the great South African took 5-39 from 16 overs in Yorkshire’s second innings score of 152.

His performance – an intoxicating potpourri of pace, bounce and skilful control – helped to drag Surrey back into the game after they had started day three with a disquieting deficit.

The visitors, who resumed on 219-7 in reply to Yorkshire’s own first innings total of 342, were up against it as they attempted to preserve their unbeaten record.

But after they got up to a final score of 267 in the Scarborough sunshine, Morkel’s burst helped to turn a 75-run deficit into an eminently gettable target of 228, Jade Dernbach chipping in with 3-34 before Surrey closed on 89-0 in pursuit of their goal.

Morkel had started the day with bat in hand, having contributed 18 to an overnight stand of 22 with Ollie Pope for the eighth wicket.

Morkel should have perished after adding only one to his overnight score, but he was put down at mid-wicket by Jack Brooks off Tim Bresnan.

Pope, who resumed on 34, picked up from where he left off as he square-drove Bresnan for four and then clipped him to the mid-wicket boundary.

When the highly-rated 20-year-old then cut Steve Patterson to the rope, he had reached a splendid half-century from 92 deliveries with his fifth four.

The day was 40 minutes old when Yorkshire finally took a wicket, Coad having Morkel caught at second slip by Adam Lyth at the second attempt.

Coad struck with his next ball too, the final one of his 20th over, as Dernbach edged to Jack Leaning at third.

After Pope thumped three successive boundaries off the next over from Brooks, Amar Virdi survived the hat-trick delivery at the start of Coad’s 21st over, the ball passing perilously close to the outside edge.

But Coad made it three wickets in four balls when he bowled Virdi with his next delivery, finishing with 5-53 in another fine performance.

Before a crowd of 2,826, who watched in increasingly hot conditions on a picture-perfect day, Yorkshire’s second innings was soon in distress when both openers fell in the first five overs.

Alex Lees tried to drill Morkel back down the ground and was brilliantly caught by a diving Dernbach at mid-on, and Lyth was strangled down the leg-side by Morkel, who was immediately into a menacing rhythm from the Peasholm Park end.

Each delivery from Morkel is an event in itself.

At the start of his run-up, he motions to set off only to suddenly turn round and complete a slow circle of about 10 paces before finally making his move for real, like a lovestruck teenager who thinks twice about approaching a girl that he likes before eventually summoning up the courage.

Morkel says that he makes this circle to give him momentum, in the way that a batsman goes through various preliminaries before the ball is bowled.

The ‘Morkel circle’ has been one of the great quirks of the modern era, and the maestro soon had his third wicket when Gary Ballance pushed in ungainly fashion into the offside and was captured at point.

Harry Brook followed a ball from Rikki Clarke on the stroke of lunch and was caught behind, and Cheteshwar Pujara fell shortly after the break when Dernbach arrowed one through his defences.

Morkel returned to have Leaning caught behind, Bresnan followed in the same fashion to Ryan Patel, and then Morkel had his fifth wicket when he trapped Jonny Tattersall.

Dernbach rounded things off having Brooks caught in the slips and bowling Coad, with Steve Patterson’s unbeaten 25 the highest score of an innings in which seven men reached double figures.

The theme of tumbling wickets ceased when Surrey embarked on their second innings, Rory Burns (55) and Mark Stoneman (32) leaving their side wanting just 139 more on the final day.

Yorkshire captain Patterson said: “It was pretty disappointing to be honest. It’s not game over, though. They are still 140 behind, and we know if we can get a couple of early wickets in the morning...it showed in the first innings. They were 90 or 100 for two and we bowled them out for 269. But we have to start very well in the morning.”