M.S. Dhoni as leader means success: Albie Morkel

Former South Africa all-rounder throws light on the success of Chennai Super Kings to decode the Dhoni factor.

Chennai Super Kings captain M.S.Dhoni (right) and Albie Morkel take a single during an IPL match against Delhi Daredevils on May 08, 2008.

Chennai Super Kings captain M.S.Dhoni (right) and Albie Morkel take a single during an IPL match against Delhi Daredevils on May 08, 2008.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Albie Morkel’s international career may not throw jaw-dropping numbers but he picked the right wickets at the right time and finished games when required. Parallel to the international stint, ran the Chennai Super Kings journey under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Having played five Indian Premier League (IPL) finals under the superstar ‘keeper-batsman, the South African feels ‘Dhoni the brand’ matters and that he is still supremely fit to run the show.

“Dhoni plays a big role. We all know how big Dhoni is in India, and the brand of cricket he plays. He is one of the best T20 and white-ball players ever to play the game and if you get him as a leader, it is going to bring success as he knows how to get the best out of his players,” Morkel told Sportstar on the sidelines of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series.

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Dhoni has been off the cricket field ever since the World Cup 2019 semifinal loss to New Zealand. The 2020 edition of the IPL, which is currently in limbo due to the coronavirus outbreak, would have marked his comeback and perhaps set the stage for the expected farewell tournament in October, the ICC World T20.

Morkel threw light on the achievements of CSK to decode the Dhoni factor behind any team’s success. “It all comes from keeping your core group of players together for a long time and have the same captain, Dhoni, for all seasons except for the two years when they weren’t part of the competition. Consistency is their secret. Over the last few seasons, they have made the finals eight times out of 10,” he said.

Morkel retired from all forms of cricket last year but he misses “the moments of the IPL.” He was part of the South Africa Legends side for the Road Safety Series which got paused mid-way due to the pandemic.

“But also I have accepted that my time is over. You need to move on. I have spent fantastic years with CSK who are still very successful. It is great to be back for the Road Safety Series, intensity is a little lower and the guys are all looking a bit rounder. But good fun.”

Kolpak and Cricket South Africa

Morne, his younger brother, made his last South Africa appearance exactly two years ago before signing the two-year Kolpak deal with Surrey.

With players settling for English counties due to Kolpak, injuries to fast bowlers and impending retirements, Cricket South Africa is not in the best of health at present.

The situation, however, can change, now that the UK has left the European Union. As a result of that, no new players will be able to sign under Kolpak terms.

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“Well, I think, England went the Brexit route so Kolpak will fall away. So most of the SA guys have one more season in England, I think. They can’t qualify lest they sign as an overseas player. I think we will get a few guys back into our system,” Morkel is hopeful, adding: “The core head of the bowling department is gone with Dale Steyn [retired from Tests], Morne and Vernon Philander. Kagiso Rabada has shown that he is capable of filling their boots, so is Lungi Ngidi but the only concern will be their fitness. The body needs to get used to a lot of bowling. They are all good new-ball bowlers. Anrich Nortje is a young exciting prospect.”

If the world is successful in curbing the COVID-19 virus, Morkel will be travelling to Australia for the ICC World T20. He is a consulting coach with the Namibia cricket team. “Nice opportunity that came my way. It’s been fantastic so far. We got the ODI status back, so they can play and have now qualified for the T20 World Cup. It is a country with only two million popultion and the guys are disciplined.”

As for Dhoni, only time will tell if he returns in the blue jersey.

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