JOHANNESBURG - Chris Morris is glad to be out of the national spotlight - for now. Training and playing these past few weeks with his franchise, the Titans, has helped reinvigorate the explosive but too often - for national coach Ottis Gibson’s liking - erratic all-rounder.
At 30, Morris’s career has reached something of a cross-roads. He remains a highly valued player in the Indian Premier League, where his services were retained by the Delhi Daredevils franchise for over R12 million, but his international career doesn’t appear to be going in any specific direction.
When the two white ball series against India ended with South Africa losing seven out of nine matches, Morris having featured in eight of those games, Gibson was forthright in his critique of Morris, saying he needed to work harder and more importantly, decide what kind of bowler he wanted to be.
It hit hard with Morris. “There is some clarity, for sure,” said Morris about his discussions with the national side’s coach. “Whether I like it is a different story.”
Nevertheless, he is trying to put in place what Gibson has demanded.
“I’ve hit the gym quite hard, I’ve worked on my fitness. It essentially is up to me, but when the coach gives you a thing to do, you do it. If I want to put myself in the frame for the World Cup next year, then I suppose I just have to try and do what he says; there’s really no other option.”
Being back at the Titans has proved beneficial. “It is a much more relaxed environment, no one is fighting for places, all the goals are the same and I’m enjoying my game.”
But that doesn’t mean an absence of pressure. The Titans are in the chase for the Sunfoil Series title in fourth place, separated from the Warriors in first by just six points.
🙌 Today Farhaan Behardien will play his 100th First-Class match.
The Titans stalwart heads into #COBvTTN having amassed 5 776 runs, including 8 centuries and 40 fifties, at an average of 40.96. #BeLegendary #BeTitans pic.twitter.com/st10zhdaUQ
The Eastern Cape franchise attained that position by beating the Titans in dramatic fashion in East London two weeks ago.
For Morris, who will miss the match against the second-placed Cape Cobras in Paarl from Thursday, his performances with bat and ball against the Warriors certainly boosted his confidence; he claimed four wickets in the first innings and then a century as the Titans tried to save the game.
“We don’t look at that defeat in a bad light; on the contrary, it's given us confidence and clarity... we know what we have to do, and that is win our next two matches and if we do that, we will win the competition.”
The Cobras will be thinking much the same.
Fixtures: Cobras v Titans, Paarl; Warriors v Knights, East London; Highveld Lions v Dolphins, Joburg