Cricket: South African great Morne Morkel confident in White Ferns' chances of ending silverware drought at Twenty20 World Cup

After signing on to assist the White Ferns at the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in his homeland, former South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel firmly believes New Zealand can challenge some of the game's heavyweights for the title.

Morkel, 38, will assist the White Ferns fast bowlers at this year's World Cup, bringing vital local knowledge to New Zealand's bid to end a now-23-year silverware drought.

With almost 250 international matches across all formats under his belt, the White Ferns would struggle to find a more qualified coach than Morkel, who was personally sounded out by coach Ben Sawyer.

Morne Morkel will be assisting the White Ferns in South Africa.
Morne Morkel will be assisting the White Ferns in South Africa. Photo credit: Getty Images

After failing to reach the semi-finals of their own 2022 World Cup, the White Ferns are on an upward trajectory under Sawyer.

Last August, they defeated hosts England to claim bronze at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and opened their home summer with convincing wins against Bangladesh.

With form and talent in their locker, Morkel insists that the nature of the game's shortest format could play right into Kiwi hands in South Africa.

"The World Cup, for me, is very open," said Morkel. "[New Zealand] is a team that can really play the big moments well.

"If I look at some of the players in that squad, they've got experience. That's what counts.

"South Africa has very similar conditions to Australia and slightly similar conditions to New Zealand. The wickets there are wickets that are going to suit New Zealand - I feel.

"For us, I have very high expectations to go all the way. It's just a matter of finding key little moments you can take into big battles and play them well.

"With T20 cricket, we know anything is possible."

This World Cup could lead to one or two awkward conversations for Morkel.

The White Ferns face both Australia and South Africa in poolplay, two countries Morkel has close ties to, after finishing his playing career and making a home across the Tasman.

After coaching stints with Namibia at last year's Twenty20 World Cup and Durban Super Giants in the current SA20 competition, Morkel is more than comfortable coaching against those he's closest to.

The White Ferns celebrate.
The White Ferns celebrate. Photo credit: Getty Images

"For me, it's a professional job," he added. "We've seen, to refer it to the men's game, Michael Hussey joining the English side and from there going to victory.

"For me, it's an opportunity that's been given to me and an opportunity I look forward to.

"I'm in the set-up and I'm going to give everything I can to help them prepare, get them ready and get used to the conditions, and let them feel settled in South Africa."

Morkel also has no issue if he needs to step aside and allow others to take his place in terms of spin bowling - an area of strength in the White Ferns ranks.

Amelia Kerr, Fran Jonas and Eden Carson have proved a vital part of the White Ferns bowling attack under Sawyer.

While he'll help where he can in terms of mentoring the bowlers, regardless of discipline, Morkel isn't too proud to delve into his lengthy list of contacts to bring in help from elsewhere.

"We're going to look to cover all bases," he continued. "I'm the type of guy who'll put my hand up.

"There'll be some times I won't have all the answers with spin regards, but I've got a phonebook with a lot of numbers of good spinners.

"With WhatsApp calls, Zoom calls, it's not that hard to connect people, and talk about spin strategy and gameplans. I know a lot of coaches who make use of that.

"I'll give my all to understand, and to develop and work with the person.

"If there's any ideas, I don't think there's anything wrong with reaching out and connecting with somebody who can help that player develop.

"It's all about the player. I'll put my ego aside, put my experience aside - it's what's best for the team, what's best for the player.

"I will tap into all the resources I have to add value to this team."

As well as Australia and South Africa, the White Ferns face Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, with their tournament beginning on February 12 (NZ time).