We needed to talk about Chris Morris before this month’s return to the South African XI for the T20I series against Pakistan, writes Jonhenry Wilson.
Last week’s performances in Cape Town and Johannesburg have done little, if anything, to elevate him to favour among selectors and fans alike.
Hamstrung by stints on the sidelines due to injury or substandard form, Morris has not delivered the fast bowler or all-rounder promise of earlier years, much as in the case of Wayne Parnell.
Solid occasionally in isolated instances, but not a player you could bank on heavily to win a series, let alone a tournament. Morris should not go to the World Cup.
Sunday’s twin wickets in the closing throes at the Wanderers bear testament to Morris’ T20I value, but this can’t be extended to ODI competition. A player increasingly at home to Indian Premier League and other T20 competitions around the world is best left in the shortest format – both internationally and domestically.
No argument can convincingly place him ahead of fellow all-rounders Wiaan Mulder, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo for a World Cup berth. These four are effectively competing for one position: Phehlukwayo the frontrunner, and Morris last in line.
Morris has batted as high as three in the order and as low as nine in ODI cricket – and has occupied that number seven position irregularly. He has completed a 10-over allotment on just six occasions. Fans – happily – and critics – begrudgingly – will back Phehlukwayo to do both, more often and better, far sooner than they would Morris.
‘Chris Morris – he is a guy who has not quite lived up to his expectations. Whether it’s a mental thing or a heart thing, I don’t know. But I really want him to step up ahead of the 2019 World Cup,’ said former Proteas captain Graeme Smith late last year.
Three months later, Smith’s hopes haven’t borne fruit – and that sentiment is echoed by many others. While the selectors are faced with several batting and bowling combination conundrums for the World Cup squad, Morris shouldn’t be among those considerations – neither for all-rounder or other.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman | Gallo Images