England in South Africa 2015-16 February 13, 2016

Million-dollar Morris proves his worth to SA

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Chris Morris proved his worth for South Africa with a spectacular display of hitting © Getty Images

Chris Morris gave South Africa one of their most memorable ODI victories in Johannesburg on Friday night but not even the man himself thinks it has secured him a place in a side packed with allrounders but still searching for middle-order muscle.

"I'm trying my hardest to cement a spot in the team," Morris said. "I wouldn't say I've leapfrogged over anybody. There are still a couple of guys who should be given an opportunity if they put in the performances but I've put in a lot of work on my batting. Eventually it has to pay off and tonight it was my turn to show off that I am pushing for that allrounder spot."

As a seam-bowling allrounder, Morris' direct competitor is David Wiese, who also played in the Wanderers match but had far less eye-catching returns. Wiese scored just 21 runs off 32 balls before reaching for a wide ball and spooning a catch to short cover after a similar bowling effort to Morris'. Wiese conceded 58 runs in his 10 overs while Morris cost South Africa 52 runs in nine overs and picked up an important wicket - that of Joe Root - at the death.

Ultimately Morris believes they are not competing with the bat because his "main role is to bowl." In that department, Morris thought he was "slightly under par" but admitted that "being a hitter at the end is a bit of an advantage".

In South Africa, it is more than a bit of a positive. The team have long looked for reliable finishers and have yet to find someone who can consistently deliver, although AB de Villiers mentioned someone else who he can now put faith in at the end.

"Fudgie, look he's a big match player, he always has been, especially at domestic level, he's proved it time and time again," de Villiers said, referring to Farhaan Behardien, who hit 38 off 42 and shared in a sixth-wicket stand of 48 with Wiese that ensured South Africa did not implode after JP Duminy's dismissal. "He's started to prove that now at international level over the last year or so, playing big knocks under pressure. Unfortunately he got out but he played his game to perfection and set it up nicely for guys like Chris to finish it off."

Behardien will welcome the support, especially after his bowling was not required and he received heaps of criticism on social media for not seeing the chase through.

De Villiers' backing of Behardien can also only mean that Duminy, who ran the captain out and was then dismissed by an Adil Rashid legbreak that smacked him on the pad, is under pressure for his place, especially as his contributions dwindle.

Duminy's bowling was cast aside two matches ago, when South Africa first called on an allrounder in the XI, but that has not helped his batting. He last scored an ODI fifty seven matches ago, in Bangladesh last June, and questions over how much longer South Africa can accommodate Duminy while keeping David Miller and Rilee Rossouw on the sidelines are starting to sprout.

Unlike some of his team-mates, Duminy does not seem to embrace the do-or-die moment in the same way Morris did. "As a cricketer you live for those pressure situations," Morris said. "I kind of enjoy being put under pressure because that's where you get tested as a character and a cricketer."

Those are exactly the kind of words a captain like de Villiers wants to hear. "Knocks like that shape a player," de Villiers said. "It's massive for Chris what happened. The game and sport is about confidence and now he can find a way to get a bit of confidence and self-belief."

Not that Morris needed any more of an ego boost. Last Saturday, he sold for a million dollars in the IPL - over R16 million at the current exchange rate - but it seems he still has not realised what that says about his worth.

Just as Morris did not think his match-winning efforts at the Wanderers will guarantee him a place in the national side, he does not think that his price tag says too much about his ability. "I don't think anyone can justify going for that amount of money in the IPL," Morris said. But after his performance on Friday, the Delhi Daredevils will be able to justify spending that amount.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Inducker on February 14, 2016, 9:51 GMT

    Typical of SA sport. Morris (now deemed a hero for yet another flash of good play) is too inconsistent. He should have been out for a meagre score at the Wanderers but for crowd pressure on England and rode his luck thereafter. His opening over at Newlands was a complete pressure release (like the spell to Stokes in the test) and he continues to shunt the ball down leg regularly (Some inherent problem with his action?) That's the problem with him and a lot of SA playing (Including Amla's slip catching) total inconsistency. Sure you can get away with fruit salad performances in T20 cricket with short innings and 4 overs of bowling but you won't make it in other forms if you go on like that. Same with de Villier's captaincy. Rabada was bowling well but gets taken off for the pressure release over and is inconsistent in his return. Captaincy rule no 1: If it ain't broke don't fix it

  • Cyrus_The_Virus on February 13, 2016, 20:48 GMT

    Im glad for chris coz he seems to be a genuine nice & humble guy. If he can become more consistent with the bat maybe he can do the job that Klusener & Albie did for SA in limited overs for at least 4 years. Between him & david i still think Wiese is a better batsman & Morris a better bowler. They both should be in the 11 on permanent basis as far as T20 team goes as both are genuine allrounders in T20. As for his test place Morris would need to improve his bowling immensely to cement his place. However for the no 7 role i think the selectors would do well to invest in a younger guy like D.Pretorious who looks like he has it in him to become a genuine allrounder if he can maintain or increase his pace further up. He could be the proteas answer to Ben Stokes.

  • Martin - on February 13, 2016, 18:15 GMT

    @gujratwalla - No, South Africa should have (and did) win the match. SA shot themselves in the foot with their bowling.

  • MeTalHeD69 on February 13, 2016, 16:47 GMT

    @Proteafire786 I understand the risk but keep in mind they do put themselves in those positions hence it is choking. ODI games require risk. There are times when you need to go greater than a run a ball and saying they can't handle the pressure isn't good enough. If they want to win they have to have someone lower down the order who can take the risk and clear the ropes. Either Behardien bats higher up because of his style or they get another hitter. Behardien did not bail SA out. He helped but Morris did the necessary work. Do you have faith that SA could have won without Morris or that Behardien could win SA more games in crunch situations?

  • ProteaFire786 on February 13, 2016, 16:12 GMT

    METALHED69, "greater than a run a ball" but at twice the risk? We almost never run out of overs when chasing...Why then do we lose so many games chasing middling scores 230-300? Because our batsman (e.g. Miller and even AB) don't handle the pressure well and try to blast their way there or take unnecessary singles and twos. We always run out of wickets. How many times have we choked in tournaments precisely when this is the case? When required rates are 4 to 5 you need someone to keep calm and knock it around at a decent rate. Behardien seems to be the only player in our middle order that does it. Yesterday perfectly illustrated this. Great return catch or he'd have coasted this chase. He can clear the ropes after he's set too. Perfectly suited no.6. Duminy must be replaced by Roussouw

  • ProteaFire786 on February 13, 2016, 15:56 GMT

    Yes finally! De Villiers has said it. Behardien played the situation to perfection. We needed under 6 and he was getting there without taking risks. All good that Morris came off but if he miscued one when hitting everything in sight?...We've seen it many times. Farhaan is one of FEW saffas that don't wilt under pressure. Everyone loves Miller or Roussouw to replace him. How many times have they chased a score? Roussouw is still inexperienced but Miller has been around for many years now. He would have smashed a 10 off 8 balls and we'd have lost.

  • gujratwalla on February 13, 2016, 15:53 GMT

    Tremendous from Morris but England should have won this match.They shot themselves by dropping too many catches and not putting Behardein, Weise and Morris under pressure.Morgan erred badly by using Ali and Rashid together for too long while Woakes was breathing fire! But Morris batted with rare courage and calm.Looking forward to the decider tomorrow.Duminy is a sucker for the English spinners.I would try Miller instead.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 13, 2016, 15:12 GMT

    In terms of chopping order its definitely Duminy before Berhardien. Duminy bats higher, gets more opportunity to score, yet scores at a slower strike rate and still always gets out LBW to off-spin, plus he has had far more opportunity than Berhadien, almost 3 times more ODIs. Do we really want him in India? No ways.

  • cktsince99 on February 13, 2016, 14:57 GMT

    I would prefer Duminy to Riley and Weise in the subcontinent. He's vastly better. Elsewhere, Riley deserves a slot

  • Baundele on February 13, 2016, 13:54 GMT

    At the moment South Africa's main problem is their batting. Nobody except de Kock is scoring enough. Good to see Morris playing that tremendous knock. Otherwise it was all about that old SA with the C word in action. AB de Villiers is the best batsman of the world, except that he does not win matches under pressure. Duminy is out of form. Farhan was always mediocre, Amla ahd Faf have got dip in their form. And the absence of Steyn; SA have too many things to correct at the moment.

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