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The new Lance Klusener?

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Chris_Morris_South_Africa_CricketThe Indian Premier League has helped unearth many young talents for India as well as the other countries. Players have had a chance to show their capabilities and some have also established themselves as the mainstays of their respective teams. Chris Morris has established himself in such a way in the current South Africa setup.

Morris made his first-class debut when he was 22. Chris Morris was inspired by his dad, Willie Morris to take up cricket, who played first-class cricket for Northern Transvaal for 17 seasons. Morris used to consider his dad as his idol and followed whatever he asked him to do. He started off as a slow left-arm spinner but changed his mind and switched to pace as he didn't want to get hit by batsmen.

The lanky all-rounder was the leading wicket-taker in the domestic tournament in the 2011-12 season, which earned him a spot in the squad for the T20 series in Zimbabwe. The 2012 Champions League was an ideal place for Morris to show his talent. Along with Sohail Tanvir and Dirk Nannes, the Lions had a brilliant pace battery and the franchise went on to make it to the finals of the tournament before losing to winners Sydney Sixers.

He earned his first national cap for South Africa in December 2012, when they played a T20 against New Zealand. Morris had an impressive debut, picking up a couple of wickets while bowling under an economy of six, as South Africa crushed New Zealand. In early 2013, Morris was sold to the Chennai Super Kings for 31 times his base price. Ever since making his debut, Morris has always been among the wickets in the shorter format of the game. He has picked up 166 wickets in 133 matches for club and country and has six four-wicket hauls to his name.

Morris is an all-rounder who any captain would love to have. He can consistently clock over 140 kmph and be a match-winner with the bat as well, with his late cameos coming into the party. He had a decent debut season in the Indian Premier League, snaring 15 wickets, helping Chennai Super Kings go all the way to the finals. But injuries plagued his career. He suffered an injury in his very first match for South Africa. He also had to miss out on the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League due to an ankle injury.

Such has been Morris' ability with the ball that people sometimes forget his match-winning ability with the bat. Morris is the type of player who can turn the head of the match within a space of few deliveries and on his day, he can snatch the match away from the opponent's grasp. He admitted that he never lost love for the game and loves to bat. His stats back this up. In the mere 265 deliveries he has faced in all IPLs, he has scored 439 runs at an average of 36.58. His unbeaten 38 off just 9 deliveries in this year's IPL is a testament to Morris' hard-hitting ability. His fighting 82 off just 32 deliveries in last year's IPL will go down as one of the best innings in the decade-long history of the Indian Premier League. Though Delhi lost the match by a solitary run, Morris had gained the love of the cricketing fraternity for his never-say-die spirit.

 

Morris has a good cricketing brain which he uses to tackle situations whilst batting and bowling. “You can bowl to a batter, you can bowl to a cone. And because I’m a hitter myself, I ask myself, ‘Where don’t I want a cricket ball if I’m hitting?’ And then I take it from there. I’m big on feeling, so if I bowl a yorker I try and remember what it felt like or what my action was like when I did it,” he said, in an interview with Wisden India. The million-dollar man, whose services were purchased by Delhi Daredevils two years ago, is not just any other pinch hitter. He strikes the ball cleanly and doesn't go for the unnecessary hoicks.

Morris suffered a groin injury in a tour to Bangladesh and that halted his progress for a while. But good news came in for the buccaneering all-rounder when he was handed his first Test cap in 2016. Though he went for runs with the ball, he showed his batting prowess, scoring 69 in his debut innings.

His ODI performances have been commendable. He has 33 wickets and 324 runs to his name from 29 matches. His 62 against England in the fourth ODI at Johannesburg helped South Africa rise from the ashes as they went on to win the match by a wicket. His Man-of-the-Match performance not only helped his side to clinch a victory, but also helped in making the series scoreline 2-2. In the recently concluded T20I series against England, Morris was awarded the Man-of-the-match in the second match for helping his side clinch a victory by just 3 runs. The victory also helped South Africa draw level before hosts England trashed South Africa in the third T20I.

Morris knows that cricket can be a harsh game as well, but he wants to enjoy the game till he is playing it. “I think you do sometimes get caught up in the seriousness of the occasion. But at the end of the day, I’ve got a motto: ‘The sun will come up tomorrow’. You might lose a game of cricket but there’s worse things in the world that could happen. So embrace the moment and enjoy the cricket,” he says.

South Africa has been long searching for an able replacement for Lance Klusener. With Morris being a hit in all the formats and departments of the game, South Africa may well have an able replacement for their legendary all-rounder.

 

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