This week, we will, with great respect, ignore the claims of various Proteas players for the Most Valuable Player award for the week, due to the nature of the opposition at Centurion, and look a little further down the line.
There are several players from the recent Sunfoil Series matches who brought their influence to bear, but for sheer game-changing effort, the accolade, in our view, goes to Highveld Lions seamer Chris Morris. In the space of 10 deliveries, he smashed through the Cobras top order, taking three wickets for 14 runs. He came back later to remove a stubborn George Linde at the end for a four-wicket haul for 35.
Morris, whose season last year was hampered by injury, had not been particularly impressive in the Cobras’ first innings, taking just one for 62. The Cobras had flirted with danger throughout the match, but when the Lions extended their second innings deep into the morning session of the final day, sacrificing time for runs and offering a near-impossible target of 331 in 79 overs, the chances were good that the Cobras could bat out the day and salvage a draw. Morris contributed significantly to that total, with a solid 44 at a good rate to enable the declaration.
Then he stepped up to the bowlers’ plate. He dismissed Andrew Puttick (3), Yaseen Vallie (1) and Justin Ontong (6). Richard Levi had already been sent back by Kagiso Rabada, but if any one of the above had played to their potential, the outcome would have been different.
At 23 for four, the shell-shocked Cobras could not halt the slide and they went down at 117, giving the Lions a 213-run victory and putting them on top of the log.