'I have never in my life seen this much money'
Chris Morris was in the Kimberley dressing room with his Lions team-mates on Sunday morning. Little did he know he was sitting on a diamond mine.
Across the Indian Ocean, the IPL auction was taking place. Morris was one of the outsiders, with a base price of just US$20,000. That is the equivalent of R177,000 - which can buy a mid-level new car in South Africa.
Interested to see if he would be picked up by any team, Morris and some of his team-mates turned on an iPad and watched the action unfold live on this website. Three franchises bid for Morris - the Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Super Kings' bid reached US$95,000 and then Mumbai upped to US$100,000. Gordon Parsons, the Lions bowling coach, "grabbed the iPad away from me and saw that it was up to 100,000," Morris told ESPNcricinfo. "He said, 'Good going, that's a fair amount of money.'" But that was not all.
Mumbai soon doubled the amount, then Chennai raised, and so the ping-pong went. Morris' head was spinning. "Neil McKenzie had a little joke with me when it got to 450,000 but nobody could really believe what was happening," he said.
Eventually the hammer was hit when Super Kings put $625,000 on the table. That was more than 31 times the amount Morris was initially up for. In rands, he will now earn R5.5 million which can buy anything from a luxury home to a massive investment. "I have never in my life seen this much money," he admitted. In the space of ten minutes, Morris went from a franchise cricketer on a decent contract to a multi-millionaire.
The first thing his team-mates wanted to know was what he was going to do with his riches. "I honestly don't know," he said, before giving it a little more thought. "I suppose one of the things I'd like to do is give my parents anything they should like and spoil them a little bit."
Willie Morris, Chris' father, is a former Northern Transvaal first-class cricketer, so the sporting genes in the family are strong. It took Morris junior a few years before he was recognised after going through the academy structures. He was only contracted by a franchise two seasons ago, but since then his stocks have risen steadily.
Morris was the leading wicket-taker for the Lions in last summer's domestic T20 competition and played an important part in getting them to the final. It also opened the door for the team to participate in the Champions League Twenty20, which has become a launch pad for domestic cricketers from Davy Jacobs to Kieron Pollard.
It was likewise a showroom for Morris, who played a telling role in the Lions' run to the final, with his finishing ability and genuine quick bowling. He only picked up 1 for 24 against Super Kings but he caught Stephen Fleming's eye. "He came and had a chat to me afterwards and said he was impressed with the way I bowled," Morris said. "So I guess that was a big platform for me."
The wicket Morris claimed that day was that of Faf du Plessis, who is a fairly close acquaintance, and had also been talking to him about the possibility of playing in the IPL. Although Morris said he has no preference about which team bought him, his already existing relationships with players at Super Kings means he is probably at the right place. "Fleming was one of my heroes as a schoolboy, so it will be an honour to be around him. And obviously with Faf and Albie [Morkel] playing there, it's going to be quite fun."
Morris is also looking forward to going to India for the first time and seeing Chennai, where "I've heard it's pretty hot". Because the CLT20 was played in South Africa last year, not India, Morris missed out on the chance to see the subcontinent. "But I've heard stories from people like Faf about how everyone is cricket-crazy, and I really just want to experience the vibe there."
While the euphoria sinks in, there are also some very real concerns for Morris around injury. A quad niggle kept him out of the domestic one-day cup final and recurred to rule him out of the T20 series against New Zealand. It was believed that in the last IPL, Marchant de Lange, another quick, sustained the stress fracture that kept him out of action for the entire summer.
Workload is a trending topic, especially for bowlers, and Morris is aware that he will need to monitor his. "That quad injury was a real eye opener for me," he said. "I realised how quickly things can change in a career. I've been working hard with the physiotherapist on my rehab processes and on getting my body right, and at the moment I am feeling good and ready to play." Super Kings will hope it stays that way.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent