SA Cricket magazine spoke exclusively to South African seamer Chris Morris, who will be in action during the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, which starts on Sunday.
SA Cricket: An ankle injury ended your 2013-14 season prematurely and a problematic rib has hampered the start of 2014-15. Tell us about it.
Morris: The ankle is 100 percent to go. But the first four-day game I played this season, I managed to pick up a rib injury. Obviously, having been out for so long, I thought any pain I felt was just bowling pain, trying to get used to it again. I felt something in my side, which I didn’t think was too bad. But it got progressively worse for the next few days after the first four-day game. What had happened was that one of the muscles surrounding a rib had pulled off. It chipped the tip of my bone away, so effectively I broke a rib while bowling. That put me out for the second Sunfoil Series game of the season and the first couple of opening games of the Momentum One-Day Cup. It’s a long season, so the medical staff decided to bring me back a lot slower.
Morris: I definitely had a bit of fomo (fear of missing out), especially having played the year before and done so well. Look, I could have probably gone to the IPL, I could’ve pushed through the injury. But I felt my career in South Africa is more important than my career in India, so that’s why I decided to just get my ankle sorted here. I’d rather play for South Africa rather than play in the IPL, despite all the money it pays. You could offer me all the money in the world, but I just want to play for my country. So I made that decision, it was difficult. I’m almost contradicting myself, yet it was difficult but easy to decide that. I’d rather look after my career in South Africa because I know if I look after my cricket here the cricket in India will take care of itself.
Morris: It was just the one-year contract with the Chennai Super Kings. The IPL contracts work in three-year cycles, and I had signed on for the last year. So next year, if I do manage to get myself into the player auction, I will be a free agent. I was supposed to be in the Caribbean Premier League this year, but I obviously pulled out because of my ankle. But if I had gone into that auction, I would have gone in not having played any cricket for three months, so I said to my agent I wasn’t going to pursue that player auction. There were a couple of possibilities in England, but that would mean I would need to qualify for that. That’s still on my bucket list, to play county cricket in England.
Morris: Realistically, I can’t see myself going to the World Cup. My main focus is just playing cricket again. I’m just happy to be playing again. If you look after yourself in the franchise system, South Africa selection will take care of itself. I firmly believe I have fallen behind the pack, which I have no issues with. Other guys have pushed, other guys have performed better than me. I have no issues with taking the long route back into the Proteas side, if I ever get there. If I don’t get there, well, that’s just one of those things. I will just keep performing as hard and as well as I can for the Lions and, like I said, hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
Morris: The arrival of Lonwabo has been great. He is obviously a world-class cricketer, there is plenty of reasons as to why he was the number one-ranked ODI bowler once upon a time. There is always healthy competition, but I don’t personally think I am competing with him. He has the experience and has played a lot more cricket than me. There are a lot of young bowlers coming through at the Lions, which creates a lot of competition. I’m a firm believer that the best XI must play. If I’m not in the best XI, then I shouldn’t play. No player should be playing on reputation alone. Lonwabo is an incredible, clever bowler. He is very good with the youngsters. He looks after young Kagiso Rabada, who is a serious cricketer – and has knowledge beyond his years. Kagiso has a very long future in the game ahead of him.
Morris: My batting has been going a whole lot better these days. I had a long sit down with the coaching staff shortly after my operation, and said that there was no point in beating around the bush, that I was performing horribly under par with a cricket bat in my hand. I’ve worked very hard on my batting game since, which I think I’ve uncomplicated, I like to think. I just kept it simple in the beginning, and that’s when I scored runs. I want to get that all-rounder status back.
Morris: You go through stages of mentors. My first mentor was obviously my dad. He was the guy who taught me cricket, he bowled to me for hours in the yard and he taught me the etiquette of the game, which I am grateful for that. I’m very fortunate that I have him, he understands when I talk cricket – and he knows what I am going through. Neil McKenzie is one of the guys I talk to a lot about batting. He is one of the friendliest guys on the planet. He has so much experience to share. He works hard, giving us throw-downs rather than expecting them from us.