Morkel joins Brisbane Heat as local player

Rob Forsaith
·2-min read

The prospect of representing Australia remains a nightmare for Brisbane Heat recruit Morne Morkel, but playing a full season of BBL has long been a dream for the giant South African.

Morkel, who captured 309 Test wickets during a decorated international career that ended in 2018, has become one of the highest-profile recruits for the 10th edition of the BBL.

The towing paceman's signature is a coup for the Heat, especially given he has joined as a permanent resident and will be able to play alongside internationals Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory.

Morkel, who lives in Sydney with Australian wife Roz Kelly, will be available for the entire tournament.

"When I got the message that I could play as a local, that night I had the worst dream. Well not the worst dream - I had a dream where Australian players were all stuck in quarantine," the 36-year-old told reporters.

"There was a Test match starting in a couple of days and they asked me to play for the Aussies in a Test.

"I admit it will be a bit unusual to call myself a local ... obviously Australia's my home now, I'm loving life here."

Fellow South African AB de Villiers has opted against returning to the Heat, wanting to spend time at home as he and wife Danielle await the birth of their third child.

Morkel suggested two weeks in hotel quarantine made the BBL a harder sell than usual, but the Twenty20 competition is still held in the highest regard around the world.

"It's a pity with the world we're living in at the moment, travelling is a bit tricky. I know all the international players are licking their lips to play in the Big Bash," he said.

"All the South Africans rave about it.

"I've spoken to AB for a long time about his experience and he only had good things to say ... but he didn't have to sell it to me.

"It was always a dream to play a full season here."

Meanwhile, Sydney Thunder have added potent England batsman Sam Billings to their squad.

Billings scored a career-best 118 during Australia's recent ODI tour of England, including a six off Mitchell Starc that deposited the ball deep into Old Trafford's car park.

"I'm very happy to be on board with Sydney Thunder ... Jos (Buttler) and Joe Root are two good mates of mine who represented Thunder, so I picked their brains," Billings said.

"Neither had a bad word."