Pakistan v South Africa, Champions Trophy, Edgbaston

SA back-ups stand up

Chris Morris, a product of the IPL, and Ryan McLaren, who forged a path in county cricket, did the business in the absence of South Africa's established stars

Jarrod Kimber at Edgbaston

June 10, 2013

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

Imran Farhat is bowled by Chris Morris, Pakistan v South Africa, Champions Trophy, Group B, Edgbaston, June 10, 2013
Imran Farhat was dismissed in Chris Morris' first over © AFP
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There is a lot wrong with the IPL, although, perhaps nothing Jagmohan Dalmiya and the courts of India couldn't sort out. But it also has many good qualities. Paying domestic cricketers a proper wage is one thing. Giving unknown cricketers a place to shine is another.

Chris Morris averages 34 with the bat and 23 with the ball in first class cricket. His striking is clean. His bowling has pace. He's 26 years old. And yet this was his ODI debut for his country.

It was Chennai who came calling first, after he'd embarrassed some batsmen in the IPL's ugly stepchild, the Champions League, the season before. This year he played 16 games in a team good enough to make the final. He stood out. He was exciting. He was new. But he still wasn't good enough to be chosen in South Africa's Champions Trophy squad.

If almost every single star South Africa had wasn't injured, he'd be at home in Highveld right now.

Instead with Morne Morkel out for the tournament, and Dale Steyn out of the game, Morris was here, and played. On the team sheet his number was written wrong. It seemed like it was an accident that he was even playing.

Once out there, Morris started his day by comically running himself out, and started his bowling by bowling a wide. But that was about as bad as his day was ever going to get.

Once he got going, his height, pace, and angled delivery style would have meant every Pakistan player who was happy Morkel was out, was already sad Morris was in.

Imran Farhat, the world's most surprisingly regular international cricketer, was beaten by pace, but paralysed by fear. If you'd have given him the offer of walking into a fire, or facing Morris, he may have thought long and hard about it. Farhat had a gap between bat and pad, and then there was a substantial gap between the off stump and the two left in the ground.

Mohammad Hafeez didn't ever look that happy. Morris can bowl that uncomfortable length, that when backed up with pace, just makes batsmen want to be at the non-striker's end. Hafeez played a hook shot. But it was the hook shot of a man just hoping the ball wouldn't end up anywhere near him. It floated gently to square leg.

When he was taken off after only four overs, it seemed like AB deVilliers was being kind to Pakistan.

But he brought on Ryan McLaren. McLaren is a child of county cricket. He joined Kent as a Kolpak when it looked like his international career would never start, which meant in theory he wasn't available for South Africa. In first-class cricket he's averaging 30 with the bat, and 25 with the ball. At 30, he is still not a regular player, with only 24 games since his debut in 2009.

Being a county cricket guy makes him instantly less exciting and marketable than Morris. His spell was much the same. His first spell contained no wickets in his four overs. It did however cost only seven runs. McLaren wasn't as quick, or as scary, but he was very disciplined and clever. He didn't do anything special, he just refused to bowl bad balls.

Those eight overs were all bowled back-to-back from the Pavilion End. But those eight overs set up this win. They were all bowled by players who weren't Vernon Philander, Morkel or Steyn. These two are just the back-ups, but they certainly looked like more than that today.

Morris' wickets put Pakistan behind, McLlaren's overs kept them there. By the end of the 16th over, Pakistan were 40 for 2 and the target of 235 looked absolutely massive. From there, Pakistan never looked like winning. And the thought that both men still had overs to go, just made any notion of a comeback even more unlikely.

When McLaren did come back on later, the run rate had become nominal, and even though Misbah played some big shots, McLaren cleaned up and ended with four wickets just to make sure Pakistan were finished with.

Between them, their figures were 15-3-34-6. For back-ups, who've had to get noticed in domestic leagues away from home, that's pretty good.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by   on (June 12, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

@Ryan Stephen: Botha is playing for cricket australia, he is not in saf contract anymore.

Posted by   on (June 11, 2013, 21:00 GMT)

Kleinveldt being selected ahead of Morris all this time,, who can answer for that? And where is Johan Botha?

Posted by   on (June 11, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

@James Gibson. I read an article in the Independent that states Compton was spotted playing in SA aged 15 and offered a scholarship at Harrow for his A levels.

Posted by ARad on (June 11, 2013, 16:40 GMT)

Chris Morris indeed did very well in the domestic competition in SA as others have said so he is hardly an IPL product. When CSK chose him in the IPL auction, he suggested that his Champions League performance with the Lions the may have influenced Fleming (according to a cricinfo piece that was published at that time.) Actually, the fact that he wasn't initially chosen for SA after his very useful IPL stint with CSK may be a reflection of the overall quality of IPL by unbiased observers. I enjoy IPL and watching Gayle facing Steyn in any limited overs game would be fun but, when I compare the OVERALL quality of IPL with, for example, that seen at the World T20 last year, I could see why the Paul Valthatys and Manish Pandeys were able to create their brief shiny moments in IPL.

Posted by   on (June 11, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

Lies! Lies!Lies!! Morris has played international cricket before. It's just you people who do not pay attention to detail or rather believe that your own interpretation is better than facts. T20 cricket for one's nation is recognised as international cricket.

Posted by Geordie613 on (June 11, 2013, 8:40 GMT)

James Gibson, The point the writer was making, and was also made on the BBC TMS commentary, is that Morris had not played international cricket before yesterday. However his experience in the IPL gave him exposure to playing before huge and often hostile 'away' crowds. Even though this is not international in the strict sense of the word, the feel of the stage and audience definitely is. Facing a largely Pakistani crowd in Birmingham would not have been such a shock to him afer that.

Posted by   on (June 11, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

@Soso_killer - how exactly is Compton the product of South Africa's strong domestic circuit when he moved to the UK aged 13? I guess you could also give the SA setup credit for Matt Prior's career (moved to England aged 11) and Strauss' (moved aged 6). That said, I agree with your points.

Posted by NP_NY on (June 11, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

@SurlyCynic: You're right, IPL is a two month tournament, so to say Morris was a product of the IPL is wrong. But it did give him international exposure and I am sure helped his confidence (not that he ever looks short of confidence). He is one of the reasons why CSK made it to the finals in the IPL and he is full of talent. I had commented earlier when Morkel got hurt that I hope SA sends Morris the SOS. They did, and he showed what he can do.

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