‘We are not a bad team’
Morris adamant that Proteas will bounce back from latest set-back
CHRIS Morris has always called a spade a spade. It is one of the 30 year-old’s most endearing traits.
Beyond the game, a career in the commentary box may well beckon, especially in the modern age of broadcasting fence-sitters.
So, who better to deliver the final word on the Proteas’ Champions Trophy shortcomings and then advance the conversation to the upcoming T20 series.
“We’ve had our mourning, but the sun came up again the next day,” he sighed.
“I don’t think we are a bad side, though. We just played a bad game of cricket at the wrong time,” he said, referring to the India match.
Morris cut a frustrated figure, a man who knows he ought to be preparing for or playing in a semi-final, instead of sitting in a plush London hotel explaining himself and his team.
There is also the nasally grunt to his voice – the final kick of a bit of flu, he says – and the sirens of London police and ambulances are more persistent than usual.
To top all of that off, he’s had to wait an extra half-hour, as his interviewer got stuck underground in a Tube train.
But, as ever with Morris, life is still sunny side-up.
“You see England are struggling,” he smiles, keeping one eye on the first semi-final.
Morris agrees that the Champions Trophy is a cracking tournament, and one that needs to stay on the calendar.
“I think it’s brilliant. I think the length of it is great,” he starts, before laughing at the irony of his statement.
“It’s two and a half weeks of intense cricket, against the top eight sides.”
He also points out that it is a wonderful breeding ground for new talent, be it individual or collective.
He then goes on to make a telling point, one that sort of – but not completely – explains South Africa’s struggles.
“I’ve been reading a bit about bilateral series, and how teams are able to prepare for one type of opposition,” he explains.
“You can’t do that in a tournament, because you are playing different teams every few days. So, there have been a few upsets,” he added.
They have been one of those teams upset by a perceived lesser foe.
“I know we lost to Pakistan by Duckworth/Lewis, but I still felt we could have won that game,” he says, coming back to the post-mortem.
“There was still 100 runs for them to get, and at a good rate,” he pointed out.
He admits that rain is no excuse, especially considering the battles other teams had with the elements.
Ultimately, the door was still open against India.
“I think we also ran into an Indian side with a point to prove after they didn’t defend that total against Bangladesh,” he remarked.
“There’s a lot that’s been said but, you know, we were 140/2. If our batting line-up kicks on from there, we score 300 plus ...”
He hates talking in ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, but that is all that’s left of the tournament.
“If Faf didnt take the run, AB looked very hungry ... If Dave didn’t get run out, as our in-form batsman ... if Faf had batted through the innings ... there are so many ways to look at it,” he sighs.
There are so many ways to look at it, indeed, but Morris refuses to use them as an excuse. They got a klap from a team that was better than them that day, and possibly hungrier.
He doesn’t accept the thinking that it’s time for drastic changes to the South African approach, though.
“I don’t think we are a bad team. We ran into a good English side before this. We should have beaten them at Southampton, and we did at Lord’s.
“I just don’t think drastic changes are needed. I think we’ve got a great team, with a great spirit, and we just played a poor game at a bad time,” he repeated.
Morris noted that they had let a lot of people down, and they had to atone as a team.
“I know there are a lot of people irritated by us right now, but we are still here, still gonna give our all.
“We still give a damn about playing for our country,” he gruffed.
With that in mind, he says there will be no issue getting the team up for the T20 series against England next week.
“It’s an opportunity to play for our country, which is a privilege. I keep reiterating that point to the guys.”
It is that mindset that South Africa will need to turn around a tour that has not gone to plan thus far.
The last few days have been especially frustrating, and Morris can’t wait to get stuck in again.
The only way to atone for cricketing failures is through yet more cricket. The road to redemption is cobbled with runs, wickets and, as Morris and company hope, paved by a lot more success.
He has already cajoled the troops to get on that road with a city run on Thursday morning, before they kick on with preparations for next week.
He has a bit of flu to shake off, and this team has a point to prove – and some irritated folk back home to win back.
The road to redemption is under construction.