South Africa v England, 4th ODI, Johannesburg February 12, 2016

Morris shows off batting string to his bow


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'We've got momentum on our side' - de Villiers

South Africa's attempts to stay alive in the ODI series against England seemed to have ended when Reece Topley took the one-handed catch in his follow through that dismissed Farhaan Behardien, the last recognised batsmen in their line-up. Had Chris Morris not been picked for this match, it probably would have been.

But the IPL's newest dollar-millionaire is not just a bowler who can bat a bit. He has spent a lot of time working on his ability to build an innings and he has already shown that.

On Test debut last month, Morris scored 69. Before that, he made 86 batting at No. 8 for his franchise, the Titans, in a first-class match to set them up for a match-winning total. After that, he hit an unbeaten 45 off 16 balls for them in a List A game to do the same. Morris knew he could probably see South Africa over the line if he had someone with him to do the same. Then, he lost David Wiese at the end of the 41st over and South Africa still needed 56 runs.

"When Dave got out, I thought we were in a bit of strife," Morris said at the post-match press conference. "I know KG can bat but..."

Rabada was dismissed three balls later. South Africa needed 53 with Morris on 14 when he was dropped by Adil Rashid in the deep on the next delivery he faced. He knew he had to make it count.

"Luckily they dropped me. I just thought that it's an opportunity to play cricket for your country. If it's the arc you can hit it far. I've played a lot of cricket here and I know the altitude helps," he said.

Before Morris moved to the Centurion-based franchise, he played at the Wanderers for the Lions and the Johannesburg-crowd did not forget their prodigal son. As AB de Villiers put it, "I think it was [the fans] that pushed us over the line," and although the sell-out crowd would have helped, it was actually Morris who took South Africa to the line and Imran Tahir who took them over it.

Morris credited the "work I have done on my batting in the last couple of months," with some of it but admitted there's still some work to do. With scores level, he was bowled by a googly from Rashid, who earned some redemption for dropping him, after Morris failed to read the delivery. "I didn't pick that for anything. That wasn't my best. He can have it," Morris said.

De Villiers would not have been thinking the same thing. When Morris went, the South African captain's stress levels rose after they had been on a rollarcoaster through the game. "We didn't need a nine-downer tonight. I was taking a bit of strain there in the change-room," de Villiers said.

"We could have made it easier for ourselves. We were a bit naughty there. My run out and a couple of other wickets were a little bit soft. We could have finished it earlier and with more wickets in hand."

In fact, de Villiers also thought they could have given themselves less to chase after reducing England to 108 for 6 at the halfway stage. "We had the opportunity to bowl them out for 150 but I was still very happy with 260 odd," de Villiers said. He would have been because at that point, Eoin Morgan thought it "was South Africa's game to lose after we fell 30 or 40 runs short."

England have posted totals of close to 400 and over 300 in the series so far and Morgan was "surprised it has taken us this long to fall this short." Although England have now squandered a 2-nil advantage, Morgan was still full of praise for players like Joe Root, who scored a second successive century and Chris Woakes, who managed an impressive return on his recall including an athletic run out of de Villiers.

"Joe's run of form has been magnificent for the side," Morgan said. "And Woakesy got the ball to move around. The game ebbed and flowed but it was our game to win." Now it is anyone's series to win, with the decider to take place in Cape Town on Sunday.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • blahblah1234567_9F5B2346-4AB1-446E-A1A0-77E2268CE43B on February 13, 2016, 20:50 GMT

    behardian was doing what was required. All of you people want a slogger but coming down to reality he knew that the run rate wasn't excessive and didn't need the big shots. He could have played played the big shots as well when required, taking nothing away from chris morris's excellent performance

  • Muzammil on February 13, 2016, 16:37 GMT

    @Red_Hat, "Miller & Rossouw much better batsman and finishers". Really? Your proof of this statement. Give me the no. of successful chases Miller has under his belt? And don't tell me they've scored centuries batting in the top 5. That comparison is irrelevant

  • Keith Waters on February 13, 2016, 14:06 GMT

    @ALB1ON yep exactly but becuase it's AB and that duminy is considered a "Quota" player for his skin colour, thereby doesn't deserve what he's achieved it's easier to blame him! Unfortunately not many people seem to want to celebrate a marvellous game of cricket decided by an extradordinary innings :( well played Mr Morris and SA now finish the comeback in the decider :)

  • Cricinfouser on February 13, 2016, 13:19 GMT

    JP needs to work on his ability to rotate strike when under pressure. It fustrates a batsman like de Villiers when he can't get the strike. He has all the shots but he just needs to manipulate the field a little better.

  • Funny on February 13, 2016, 11:56 GMT

    SA team selection is a big dilemma to comprehend. 3 genuine bowlers (Abbott, Rabada, Tahir)+ 2 al rounders (Morris+Wiese) picked in this game. Behardien is selected as pure batsman, right? why is he selected over time and what is his contribution? Does he selected because of quota? Miller & Rossouw much better batsman and finishers. You don't need two similar type of batsman (Duminy, Behardien) who can bowl little bit and flops in batting. Replace one of them by Rossouw or Miller.

  • Peter on February 13, 2016, 11:28 GMT

    England's fielding was poor and cost them, Rashid dropped Morris and Morgan failed to hit the stumps to run him out and that cost them the game. No sure why Moeen Ali bowled 9 overs and Rashid 5 overs. Rashid was the most dangerous of the two. Moeen seems to be in the team for his beard, he brings nothing else to the table. I would suggest England work on their catching and throwing at the stumps for the next 2 days because they were poor at both and it cost them.

  • greig on February 13, 2016, 10:29 GMT

    This guy has BMT in bucketloads. Surely he must now be a regular starter in ODI and T20 cricket. No wonder they forked out millions for him in the IPL.

  • diren on February 13, 2016, 9:22 GMT

    The million dollar man...the iron man...he looked so calm under pressure. He was even smiling in those last few overs. Not since klussner days have I watched an SA batsmen win a tense game like that with the tail. Well done Morris. Hope you continue improving. SA need an allrounder like you.

  • Andy on February 13, 2016, 9:11 GMT

    I just looked at the de Villiers run out in slo-mo. Duminy hesitates and only goes when de Villiers is 5 yards down the wicket. It seems that de Villiers made his own mind up from the off and went for the run (whether there was a call from either I do not know and it seems irrelevant given that he set off like a scalded cat before any call was possible). So to place the blame unequivocally on Duminy seems harsh. Having said that, I would have gone for the run given the placing of the shot. I have no idea how Woakes ran him out.

  •   Raghu Panjala on February 13, 2016, 7:04 GMT

    Oh whats a batsman Morris is ! Cant believe a batsman at 9th position can bat so agrresively,fluently,technically good shots .It looks as if a top batsman is playing. some of shots are stunning. He found the gaps,different techniques for different balls is what makes one a strong batsman and here is Morris!!

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