SAfrica great Morkel to play BBL as an Australian

Sydney (AFP) –


South African fast bowling great Morne Morkel Friday signed on for the Big Bash League, but as a local hire rather than international after becoming an Australian permanent resident.

The 36-year-old, who played 86 Tests and 117 ODIs for the Proteas, moved to Australia in 2018, where he lives with his sports broadcaster wife and children.

He gained residency this year and put pen to paper with the Brisbane Heat for the Twenty20 tournament starting on December 10.

"I am still enjoying my cricket enormously and the chance to be part of the Heat squad is something I am keen to experience," he said.

"I admit it will be a bit unusual to call myself a local, but we are enjoying living and working here and this is another aspect of our lives that I am looking forward to being a part of."

BBL rules allow three internationals in the same XI with Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and English pair Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory already signed for the Heat.

Vastly experienced, Morkel's T20 record includes 77 wickets in 70 matches in the Indian Premier League with Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils.

Heat coach Darren Lehmann said he was eager to see Morkel in action.

"I consider his best bowling efforts came as he got older," he said. "His control and skill with the ball were his trademarks so it will be great to introduce him into our group."

Morkel retired from international cricket in 2018.