South African all-rounder Albie Morkel has failed to live-up to his expectations of being the next Lance Klusener. While his younger brother Morne has made rapid strides in internationals, Albie hopes that his exploits in the Indian Premier League (IPL) helps him establish himself in the Proteas Test side.
Albie's performance for defending champions Chennai Super Kings in Thursday night's last-ball thriller against Royal Challengers Bangalore has earned him enough plaudits.
The 30-year-old's 7-ball 28 helped Super Kings get an impossible 43 off the last two overs as they achieved a mammoth target of 206 runs. It was the second highest chase in IPL history.
Albie told IANS that being a part of the Super Kings since the inception of the league in 2008 has helped him immensely. At Chennai Super Kings he feels at home.
"A lot of other guys move from franchise to franchise every season but for me the change doesn't not help. Once you know what you get from a certain franchise like Super Kings, you feel at home. I think it is a very good thing," he said.
Albie said Super Kings have been the most successful franchise in the IPL, winning two trophies in four years, because they have always retained the core of the team.
"One of the main reasons the team has been successful is that they have retained players. The team owners prepare the side in such a way that all the IPL glamour is taken away and the focus is on cricket," he said.
Albie said he wants to cement his place in the South African team, for all the three versions, with a good performance in the IPL.
While his brother Morne, who made his international debut in 2006, has gone ahead and played 21 Tests, Albie has played just one since making his international debut in 2004.
Albie is back in the South African fold this year after a lull in 2011 and is making the most of the opportunities that come his way. Albie made a comeback into the ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series in January after being dropped in 2010. He was also a part of the Twenty20 and ODI squad in New Zealand in February-March
Albie is not worried about his critics and his sole focus is now on playing good cricket be it for a franchise or his country.
"That sort of stuff does not bother me anymore. Earlier, I would have taken pressure on myself as to why I am not a regular in the team but now I am much more relaxed. I just try to give my best on the field. In my younger days, I would try to win every match but now I have mellowed down," he said.
"The last few series I have been part of the national squad and hopefully I will stay there for long. It is every cricketers' dream to play for the country. If it has to happen, it will happen. I am not going to put pressure on myself," said Morkel.
Albie hopes South African selectors are keeping a close watch on him keeping in mind the Twenty20 World Cup in September.
"I am sure they (selectors) are keeping a close watch on my performance. IPL is in world space and every one watches it. It is tough cricket. You have fantastic mix of Indian and foreign players. Sometime it is tougher than international cricket with so much travelling involved," he said.
Albie has planned the next few months with an eye on the Twenty20 World Cup.
"The next big thing is the Twenty20 World Cup. I have planned my winter in such a way that I am active till the tournament. Next I will be playing country cricket for Somerset and hopefully will be selected for the England tour in July-August," he said.