LONDON – Chris Morris benefited from an injury to find his way to England. Now another injury may propel him all the way into the Proteas team for the World Cup grand opener against England at The Oval tomorrow.
With star fast bowler Dale Steyn likely only to be ready next week for the clash against India on June 5 due to his shoulder injury, there is a bun-fight for the vacancy.
Proteas coach Ottis Gibson is not favouring anyone just yet, saying: “At the moment we have three all-rounders - (Chris) Morris, (Andile) Phehlukwayo and (Dwaine) Pretorius - and one of those three could come into the equation.”
But there is growing belief here that Morris may overtake his former Lions teammate Pretorius for a place in the starting line-up.
Personally, I would like to see Tabraiz Shamsi have a crack at England’s much-vaunted batting line-up in tandem with Imran Tahir, but it is well known that Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis prefer attacking with pace than the subtleties of spin.
If Morris does indeed get to start tomorrow, it is nigh time the 32-year-old delivers on all his potential and promise. Considered unlucky to have missed out on selection to the original 15-man squad, Morris showed once again in the sole warm-up game against Sri Lanka at Cardiff on Saturday why he is such a frustrating specimen.
Just short of two metres tall, Morris possesses all the physical qualities to be a supreme all-round cricketer. A rapid, undefeated 26 at Sophia Gardens at the back-end of the innings was the Morris everyone wants him to be.
But when he had the ball in his hand, the radar once again went astray as he conceded 31 runs from just four overs. The Jekyll-and-Hyde performance did not get past Gibson’s eagle eye.
“He is obviously a very dangerous batter, but we will need his bowling. And his best bowling. He knows that. He has the capability to influence the game with bat and ball,” he said.
There is certainly no room for error against an England batting unit that has smashed the ceiling in terms of ODI run-scoring over the past few years. They have ambitions of becoming the first team to score 500, and with the heavy artillery at their disposal it certainly not an impossible task.
Should Morris get the nod to be the third seamer alongside Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, he will certainly need to hit his lengths from the outset or there could be alarming consequences.
“They are playing really well and probably as an opposition the one thing you do know is that they are going to be aggressive,” Gibson said of England’s batting potency.
“You can plan for that, and they will play good shots, but they will also give you chances to the get them out. We will stick to our plans, but the plan is only good if it is executed. You know if you don’t execute, they will come down on you.”@ZaahierAdams
* Zaahier Adams is reporting for IOL Sport from the Cricket World Cup