Morne Morkel: England provides 'highest quality' of cricket after South Africa exit

Morne Morkel celebrates taking a wicket for South Africa
Morne Morkel took 15 wickets in the recent Test series against Australia, which South Africa won 3-1

Former South Africa bowler Morne Morkel says playing in England was the logical choice after quitting internationals.

The 33-year-old paceman has signed a two-year deal with Surrey, having played his final Test for the Proteas against Australia at the end of March.

"I could have still played international cricket for another three or four years if I wanted to," he told BBC Radio London.

"For me, first-class cricket in England is of the highest quality."

He added: "You have very strong local players, international guys and overseas players and it is very competitive.

"For me it is important to play a high standard of cricket. I still feel mentally and physically fit to play white-ball and red-ball cricket."

A side injury and bad weather have forced Morkel to wait for his Surrey debut but the right-armer is in line to play his first game in the One-Day Cup against Kent on Friday.

London fits Morkel 'beautifully'

Having taken 309 Test wickets, putting him fifth on South Africa's all-time list of Test wicket-takers, Morkel said it was a "family decision" to move to London after calling time on his international career.

"I have a young family and my wife is Australian and we needed a neutral base to set up some roots," he said.

"When you play in London you can get away from the game and sometimes I need to clear my mind.

"You can go and see a show - I've seen the Phantom of the Opera three times - and there are fantastic restaurants and beautiful parks.

"It is easy to travel from London as it is central, and to go to anywhere in the world is very easy. At this stage in my life, it fits in beautifully."

Surrey youth impress Morkel

Morne Morkel in action for Surrey
Morkel has featured as a 12th man for Surrey in the County Championship, but is awaiting his full debut

Morkel, who also played 117 one-day internationals and 44 Twenty20 internationals for the Proteas, has been impressed with the youngsters in the Surrey squad and hopes he can help his new club win silverware during his time in south London.

"Sam Curran is a typical 19-year-old who plays with no fear and doesn't over-think the game," he said.

"Will Jacks is a fantastic player and reminds me a bit of a mix between Jason Roy and Kevin Pietersen - a very aggressive sort of batsman.

"I predict a great future for him and Ollie Pope has impressed me a hell of a lot.

"The way the guys have been training over the past couple of weeks, it is a trophy-winning side.

"It is just a matter of guys staying fit, us going to the back end of the competition and still being mentally fresh to go on and win a trophy."

Interview with Morne Morkel by BBC Radio London's Ian Williams.