Going by Chris Morris’ refreshing effervescence and ambitious streak, it’s easy to picture a fan-boy’s thrill at having found a spot in his favourite rock band. The South African all-rounder, acquired this season by the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at $625,000, has been living his dream.
With his bustling pace yielding nine scalps from six games, he figures among the top-ten wicket-takers thus far in this year’s IPL. All this after he discovered during his debut at Mohali that he had left his kit at the hotel. “I tried to play it all cool but the nerves got to me there,” laughs Morris, during an interview with The Hindu on Wednesday.
The IPL auction was an equally nervy, and “unbelievable”, affair for him. “Ray Jennings (coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore) said he would try to pick me so I knew I was going to get a contract somewhere. I was honestly expecting a maximum of $50,000 but never in my wildest dreams did I expect such a big bid.”
Morris, who’ll turn 26 on April 30, was born to sports-loving parents; while his father Willie played first-class cricket for Northern Transvaal, his mother dabbled in netball and cricket. How did they react to the news of his auction? “They started crying (laughs). My parents and two older sisters are very proud of me.”
His showing for the South African franchise, Lions, in the Champions League T20 last year played a part in CSK’s brains trust keeping an eye on him.
“The day after we beat CSK, Flem (coach Stephen Fleming) and Andy Bichel (bowling coach) said we would be in touch. Back then, I thought they were just being nice.”
Having debuted in first-class cricket only in 2009, he’s made up for lost time. “I am over the moon at how quickly it’s all happened. Obviously, there’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice,” says Morris, who’s played in two T20Is and is desperate to represent South Africa in at least 50 Tests.
The CSK experience, according to him, has been delightful.
Even as he’s keen to explore the city, he’s trying to learn the local language, Tamil. “The pronunciation’s difficult and my teammates have only taught me some bad words (laughs).”