South African fast bowler Morne Morkel is leaving Surrey County Cricket Club after choosing not to return to the Club for the 2021 season.
Morkel, 36, played at the Kia Oval for three seasons taking 136 wickets in all formats. He played a key role in Surrey’s 2018 County Championship victory, taking 59 wickets at 14.32 as Surrey won their first Championship since 2002.
He returned in 2019, playing 20 matches, and then again in 2020, playing only one game in the Bob Willis Trophy after initially being stuck in Sydney because of international travel restrictions and then picking up an ankle injury which required an operation after accidentally treading on a cricket ball before Surrey’s game against Kent.
In an emotional letter to Surrey fans and Members, Morkel says: “When I joined the Brown Caps in 2018, after retiring from international cricket, I was immediately blown away by the club’s professionalism and rich history.
“Winning the County Championship in my first year at Surrey and soaking up the energy from our supporters and Members – who are the heartbeat of the club – is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“Unfortunately, the time has come to move onto a new chapter. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine requirements has made travel challenging and it is no longer feasible to spend large amounts of time away from home and my family.
“To Alec and the team – thank you for the warm welcome and constant inspiration. To the stars behind the scenes – the coaches, medical team, ground and admin staff – we are nothing without you and appreciate everything you do.
“Surrey will forever be in my heart and I wish the team all the best for the coming season and beyond. I’ll be watching and supporting from afar.”
Alec Stewart, Director of Cricket at Surrey, added: “On behalf of everyone at the Club I would like to thank Morne for his three years of service to Surrey CCC.
“He has been outstanding for us in every way, delivering on the pitch from his very first game and playing a huge role within the dressing room.
“Whilst everyone will miss his presence and contributions, family must come first and with the uncertainty around the pandemic and travel restrictions, we fully understand and respect Morne’s decision.
“Sourcing a suitable replacement for Morne will not be easy and therefore we won’t make a decision on a new signing until there’s more clarity on the international schedule and player availability during our season. We will only sign someone who we believe will add to the quality of our squad.”