‘We are not a bad team’

Mor­ris adamant that Proteas will bounce back from lat­est set-back

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

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.

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