South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel, by all means, had a great last Test series. At the start of the four-game series against Australia, when he announced that it will be his last international assignment for the Proteas, not many expected him to have a great swansong, especially in light of the arrival of Lungi Ngidi.
Against all expectations, he featured in the first game and did reasonably well but a crushing defeat warranted some changes on the part of the hosts, so Morkel was left out in favour of Ngidi, who justified his selection in South Africa's series-equalling win in the second Test. At that time, it appeared everyone had seen the last of Morkel.
However, fate had other ideas in mind. Injury to Ngidi ahead of the third Test brought Morkel back, and boy did he leave a big impression on the match! He took a career-best nine wickets in the controversial Cape Town game and put South Africa in the lead after Aussie players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were found guilty of ball-tampering.
In another twist, he injured himself during the fourth Test and again it appeared the world had seen the last of him in South Africa jersey. However, he returned on day four and took two important wickets to pave the way for South Africa taking the rubber 3-1.
"A lot of guys say they don't miss the game, but I'm definitely going to miss it. There was not one day did I not enjoy coming to nets. I enjoyed everything," an emotional Morkel said in his final press conference.
Talking about his return following the side strain, Morkel said, "It was very important to be on the field; I wanted to be on the field. I asked the doc what is the worst that can happen and I was happy to do it."
"I knew once I started bowling if I let the oblique muscle cool down I would be in trouble. Funny enough, I was landing the ball better than normal," he added.
Earlier, during the course of the series, Morkel had become the fifth South African bowler to take 300 or more Test wickets. In all, he took 15 wickets in three games and indeed managed to influence the series in a big way.
A retiring cricketer won't mind that kind of performance in his last series. 33-year-old Morkel can very well pat himself on the back.