Cape Town: South African fast bowler Morne Morkel’s first reaction on taking his 300th Test wicket on the second day of the third Test against Australia was to check whether he had bowled a no-ball.
"It's a special feeling, especially as I'm the world record holder for the most (wickets denied by) no-balls," said Morkel, who took three of the first four Australian wickets to reach the milestone.
"When I got the first one I turned around to check I had bowled a legal delivery, the second one, the third one."
Morkel has had 14 wickets disallowed for over-stepping.
"To reach this is something I have worked hard for, for a long time," he said.
Morkel dismissed Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith in his first spell, then came back to break a 78-run stand between Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh when Marsh flashed at a wide ball and was caught behind. He later added a further wicket when he dismissed Nathan Lyon.
Morkel, 33, who will retire at the end of the series, was playing in his 85th Test. He became the 32nd bowler in the world to achieve the feat.
Since making his debut against India in December 2006, the tall Morkel has gained a reputation as one of the bowlers that batsmen least like to face because of his pace and the awkward bounce that he achieves.
But he said it had been hard work all the way. "I wasn’t blessed with natural talent to run up and hit a length. I have had to work hard."
Morkel has been particularly effective against left-handed batsmen. The three batsmen he has dismissed most often are England’s Alastair Cook (12), fellow Englishman Andrew Strauss and Australia’s Mike Hussey (eight each).
The other South Africans to pass 300 wickets are Shaun Pollock (421), Dale Steyn (419), Makhaya Ntini (390) and Allan Donald (330).