Kolkata: The pressure of performing with the highest ever price tag for an overseas player in the Indian Premier League (IPL) can be a daunting one, but Chris Morris - the seasoned South African allrounder of Rajasthan Royals seems to know how to deal with it. Morris, a journeyman of sorts in the IPL who has turned out for the Royals once before in 2015, has been paid a staggering sum of $ 2.25 million in the mini-auction in February.
The 33-year-old Morris, whose economy rate at the death overs had been a huge clinching factor, felt ‘‘humbled’’ that a number of teams had scrambled to get him at the auction. ‘‘It’s natural to have a bit of pressure but then, I have been coming with a bit of a price tag on my head before as well. It doesn’t affect you once you are on the cricket field,’’ said Morris.
The Royals management had, going by the words of their Director of Cricket Kumar Sangakkara, a specific role for Morris in mind - which may have only got bigger with England sppedster Jofra Archer being ruled out of the competition with an elbow injury during the series against India. Speaking during a zoom interaction from his hotel room while in quarantine, Morris said he would be ready to bowl with the new ball, at the death - as per the team’s requirements.
‘‘Well, Jofra is a rockstar of our pace bowling and it’s a huge loss. I hope he gets well soon,’’ he said, adding that his role and that of Ben Stokes would be different in the team’s campaign. ‘‘Ben (Stokes) is one of the best allrounders in the world, if not the best. He opens the batting and hence, his role is at the top of the order. My role will be that of a finisher - hence we have two completely different roles to play as allrounders,’’ he observed.
Despite the obvious qualities Morris brings on the table for a T20 franchise outfit with his control and variety in seam bowling and slogging abilities, he is known to be a injury-prone customer - something which has often hurt him in his international career as well. Agreeing that workload management can be an issue at a time when players are breaking down with injuries due to an absence of enough competitive cricket, Morris said: ‘‘It’s a concern for everybody. I have tried to do everything that I can and enjoyed my time with the Titans in the T20 league in South Africa after the last IPL. My injuries have come at the wrong time.’’
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As someone who has seen life on the circuit and is well aware of the unpredictable nature of a professional cricketer’s life, Morris said he would not like to set any targets for himself in this IPL - neither is he thinking about using this performance as a springboard to come back to the national team for the T20 World Cup later this year in India.
‘‘My immmediate focus is perform for the Royals. I don’t like setting targets as cricket can be unpredictable. I want to contribute for the team for as long as you are contributing, it doesn’t matter,’’ he said on a somewhat philosophical note.
Like most pros of his ilk, Morris admits he is hugely indebted to the role IPL has played in his life and career. ‘‘My journey in the IPL had been a bit of rollercoaster but it had been an unbelievable experience. I would call the league the second biggest stage for any cricketer to perform (after the World Cup). I am still not done with it,’’ he said.
Not on same page as Steyn
Replying to a query about Dale Steyn’s recent observation that the IPL was often more about money and less about cricket, Morris turned out to be a strong advocate of the IPL. ‘‘See, Dale Steyn is one of my most favourite persons, but I don’t quite agree with him. It’s his feeling...we are different people,’’ he said.
Finally, on a lighter note, how would be spend all the money? ‘‘I am blessed to be offered this kind of money, but I don’t intend to buy a lot of things or show it off. My family is the most important thing for me and as I long as I can take care of them, I am fine,’’ he added.