Forty-eight hours before their opening Champions Trophy tie against India, a hat-trick of blows dented the South African camp. Bowling spearhead Dale Steyn picked up a side strain, Captain AB de Villiers and Robin Peterson were also added to the long list of walking wounded. It may be recalled that South Africa came into the tournament without the veteran duo of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis. Whilst Smith was ruled out because of a recurrence of a long term ankle injury, Jacques Kallis pulled out, citing ‘personal reasons’.
Though AB and Robin Peterson recovered in time and masterminded a counter-attacking 124 run stand to lead South Africa’s fighting reply, the game was already lost with the Steyn-less South African attack leaking 331 runs. More salt was rubbed into the wounds of the Proteas when Morne Morkel aborted his run-up halfway through the 34th over and walked gingerly off the field. MRI scans revealed a Grade-1 quad strain and Morkel’s injury paved the way for the ODI debut of another promising Proteas pacer, Chris Morris.
Nervous about the unexpected ODI call-up, Morris shared that he got butterflies the size of Quinton de Kock in his tummy. But come game-time, when it really mattered, the lion hearted Highveld Lions all-rounder delivered a fiery spell (2-25), well-backed up by Ryan McLaren, as South Africa cruised to a big win to live another day in the Champions Trophy. He set up Imran Farhat’s dismissal beautifully – first beating the southpaw outside the off-stump and then uprooting his off-stump with a one that straightened. His hero, Allan Donald, would have been proud of the way Morris went about his business.
South Africa have always remained synonymous with incredible fast-bowling talents and Chris Morris is no exception.
Besides hurrying the batsmen with bustling pace and skiddy bounce, the 26-year-old can swing the ball both ways. The way his bat meets the ball suggests that he is a handy batsman too. Infact, he is more than a handy batsman.
It is no surprise that he relishes English conditions. After all, Morris’ desire to chase a cricketing career coincided with a winter spent in England playing league cricket in Sussex for Hastings and St Leonards in 2008. Then, Morris’ raw pace and never say die attitude saw him break into the Highveld Lions set-up. Going from strength to strength, Morris established himself as Lions’ strike bowler.
A sterling display in last year’s CLT20 did the miss the brains-trust of the IPL bulwarks – The Chennai Super Kings. Impressed by his all-round skills, CSK forked out $625,000 to get him on board. Along with Dwayne Bravo, Morris reveled in the death overs to solve Chennai’s bowling puzzle.
If the early signs are anything to go by, then Chris Morris is another lean, mean pace-machine in the making.