Town - Ever since the days of Lance
Klusener, South African cricket has struggled to find consistent
big-hitting match winners down the order in their ODI side.
Klusener's heroics at the 1999
World Cup remain, almost 19 years later, etched into the minds of cricket
lovers in this country.
His ability to find the fence in
pressure situations made him a trump card for the Proteas back then, and with
the likes of Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher also in that lower order,
South Africa had firepower deep into their batting line-up and you always felt
they could win matches late.
Since then, though, successful
bowling all-rounders with the ability to consistently win matches with the bat
have been few and far between.
Justin Kemp is probably the most successful of that ilk,
having played in 85 ODIs between
2001 and 2007. The tall, strong right-hander averaged 31.5 with the bat at a strike rate of 83.12 - more than respectable numbers.
was Albie Morkel, though, who looked
to be the natural and obvious successor to Klusener. His clean, long-hitting has been
a thing of beauty over the years and he has won many matches for the Titans, but
for some reason he never quite clicked at international level. Morkel scored
just two half-centuries in 58 ODIs
for South Africa between 2004 and 2012 at an average of 23.69, and those numbers came nowhere
near delivering on the promise that was shown.
Things haven't gotten any better
That is not to say that South
Africa have not been dominant in ODI cricket - they certainly have - but one
area of concern over the years has been the lack of explosive hitters down the
order who can get the job done when the chips are down.
Wayne Parnell, Ryan
McLaren and David Wiese have all
been given cracks and, more recently, the likes of Dwaine Pretorius and Andile
Phehlukwayo have had opportunities.
In between those experiments, Chris Morris has gone about notching up
29 ODI caps for the Proteas.
Dubbed the 'Million Dollar Man'
at the beginning of 2016 when he signed a massive IPL deal with the Delhi
Daredevils, Morris has also not lived up to that hype on the
He has had his battles with
injury, particularly in 2017, but he is now back to full fitness and ready to
go ahead of six ODIs against India.
With plans for the 2019 World Cup
well underway, the Proteas are trying to find their combinations ahead of that
tournament, and they would like Morris to be a part of what they settle
"Chris is coming off quite a
few injuries. It’s good to have him back. He’s a very effective white ball
player and we’re hoping to see the best of him again," skipper Faf du
Plessis said ahead of the first ODI in Durban on Thursday.
"It’s important for us a
team that he gets good opportunities and starts winning games for South Africa.
If you look ahead to a year and a half’s time, he is someone that has the
capability to do something special in a big tournament."
A bowler with natural pace and
the skill to mix it up at the death, it is Morris's hitting ability that makes
him an attractive option for the Proteas.
He has played some blistering
knocks in the IPL as well as on the domestic circuit, and he can turn matches
in a matter of balls when he gets it right, but Morris needs to start playing
those innings in the green and gold.
He averages just 20.25 with the bat in ODI cricket,
though his strike rate is a healthy 100.25. Those numbers need to improve.
Given the fleeting moments of
serious ability that we have seen over the years, Morris certainly has the
potential to be a match-winner for this side.
When 2019 does roll around, 20
years will have passed since Klusener took the world by storm in England. In
the same country, two decades later, it is Morris looking like the man most
capable of repeating those heroics.
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