Chris Morris has been tearing it up in the Big Bash League for the past few weeks. Four years ago, though, he was the Pink ODI hero.
Coming into the match, the Proteas were 2-1 behind in the ODI series coming off the back of a Test series defeat, and the mood in the camp wasn’t great.
A Joe Root century and a half-ton from Alex Hales gave England a great start and, although Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada pegged back the middle order, 30s from Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid lifted the tourists to 262 all out.
The score didn’t look all that imposing, considering the Wanderers had played host to the incredible ‘438 game’, but the Proteas were soon in trouble in the chase.
Hashim Amla was castled by Stuart Broad at the end of the first over and what followed was a catalogue of starts from the Proteas top order.
Barring AB de Villiers, the Proteas’ top order struggled to keep the scoreboard moving. When de Villiers was run out trying to steal a quick single, England took charge of the game.
JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien followed the skipper back to the change room after they too failed to convert starts and, at 191-6, the Proteas looked sunk.
Enter million-dollar Morris. The Wanderers crowd didn’t know it at the time, but they were about to witness a great cameo from the all-rounder.
Morris could only watch as David Wiese and Kagiso Rabada fell in quick succession. England celebrated as if the match and the series was won.
Kyle Abbott joined Morris at the crease at 210-8, and his job was simple: survive and hope Morris gets hold of the English bowling.
Morris was dropped just two balls after Rabada’s dismissal, with Rashid spilling a tough chance. Morris took this as a signal that it might be his day.
Looking for twos and waiting for the bad ball, Morris ignited hopes of an unlikely fightback when he leathered a Reece Topley delivery into the stands at the Bullring.
In the 45th over of the chase, Morris took on Woakes, first getting a slice of luck as he edged down to third man before connecting with a sensational strike that flew over mid-wicket for a massive six. The required rate was less than a run a ball, but Morris was still batting with a bit of a bunny in Abbott.
Morris went to his 50 off 30 balls, passing the mark by tearing into Broad and taking the Proteas to the brink of victory before Rashid sucked the air out of the Wanderers.
Rashid produced a ripper of a googly to dismiss the man he had dropped earlier in the piece. Morris had smashed 62 off 38 balls to get the Proteas to the brink, but he left the finish to Imran Tahir.
The very next ball, Rashid sent down a leg break that gripped in the surface and spun. Tahir was equal to it, however, lashing the delivery through the covers for four. The images of Tahir’s wild celebrations will live long in the memory, but the match belonged to Morris.
Morris marshalled Abbott brilliantly and unleashed a brutal assault on the England bowlers to help the Proteas to a memorable win clad in pink at the Wanderers.
Photo: Gallo Images