SYDNEY - South African quick Morne Morkel declared himself ready to take the new ball at the World Cup if required after posting career-best figures of five for 21 as the Proteas crushed Australia in the second one-day international. The 30-year-old helped account for two more Australian wickets with fine catches as South Africa dismissed their hosts for a paltry 154 before squaring the series with a three-wicket victory at the WACA on Sunday.

Morkel bowled brilliantly after being handed the new ball in preference to Dale Steyn in a strike partnership with Vernon Philander -- an experiment undertaken with one eye firmly on the Feb. 14-March 29 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. "The most important thing about this tour is that we are working toward the World Cup," Morkel told reporters in Perth.

"We are trying different things, on the day a guy like Dale or Vernon might have the flu or some illness and I will need to be able to step up, it's a role that I enjoy doing as well. I got the opportunity to go with the new ball today and I'm happy that I bowled well." After a disappointing display last Friday in the opening clash of the five-match series, Morkel felt South Africa 's bowlers had needed a bit of time to get back into their usual rhythm.

"The bowling unit had a bit of a break before this series, and although we had nets, the lack of time in the middle and finding rhythm probably showed on Friday," Morkel added. "The wicket was a little bit quicker today which helped us when we found our strides and rhythm. We bowled well in partnerships and with good intensity ..." The series continues in Canberra on Wednesday before concluding with matches in Melbourne and Sydney and Morkel said the Proteas would need to continue to strike in the first few overs against Australia's powerful and deep batting.

"They are high quality attacking players and if you aren't on the money they will make you pay," he said. "Luckily for us today we got the ball in the right areas and got the early wickets, that's the most important thing in any one-day game."