CAPE TOWN - “Chris Morris is a bowling all-rounder, who often sends the speedgun beyond 140km/* and bats fearlessly in the lower order. He is also a handy slip fielder.”
That is the opening few lines on the 31-year-old Proteas all-rounder’s Cricinfo profile. Judging by those attributes, Morris would be the ideal fit for South Africa’s World Cup ambitions in England next year. But yet Morris has only played 34 one-day internationals since his debut in Birmingham five years ago.
This has primarily been due to a horrid run of injuries - the latest being a back ailment sustained during the IPL in April - but also due to a lack of consistency. Too often Morris has gone from being a match-winner, to an innocuous performer who still only averages 19.62 with the bat and 40.42 with the ball in ODIs.
But having now fully recovered and done the hard work in two four-day matches, where he bowled 56 overs and took 12 wickets at 16.33 and formed part of the Titans squad that reached the final of the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy, Morris has been granted one final chance to prove to the national selectors that he is the seam-bowling all-rounder to move forward with as “Vision 2019” approaches conclusion.
“Chris knows what we want from him. He needs to up his game. We need consistency from him. He can’t be the guy who has so much potential to fill the role we require and not perform consistently at his best,” national convenor of selectors Linda Zondi said of Morris’ inclusion in the Proteas touring squad for Australia.
“He has all the attributes we’re looking for. But he needs to finish his overs and make an impact with the bat. He needs to enhance his performances. We had a look at (a) few options, but we are almost done with that process. The window is closing.”
Along with recalling Morris, the selectors have gone for the further tried but maybe not-trusted options of Farhaan Behardien and Dwaine Pretorius. It certainly was a surprise to see middle-order batsman Behardien’s name among the 15-man squad chosen for the three ODIs and lone T20 Down Under, considering players such as Christiaan Jonker, Khaya Zondo and Rassie van der Dussen were utilised in the middle order against Zimbabwe.
The latter, particularly, impressed during the T20 series where he struck a half-century on debut in East London. Zondi, though, explained that the 35-year-old Behardien’s recall was primarily due his 59-match ODI experience.