Rajasthan Royals signed up Chris Morris for a whopping Rs 16.25 crore in the Indian Premier League 2021 auction. While many in the cricketing fraternity raised eyebrows over the South African fetching a record amount, those aware of Morris’ credentials were not too surprised.
Morris — who reunites with the Royals after six years — admits that the price tags do add initial pressure, but things eventually ease out.
“It is natural to have a little bit of added pressure when something like that has happened. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure. Fortunately, in the past I have come (to the tournament) with some big purse, so at the end of the day, you got to perform on the field, no matter what your price tag is,” Morris said on Tuesday.
“You need to perform well and contribute to your team’s win. You focus on playing your game and having fun with your team-mates.”
The 33-year-old fast bowling all-rounder has had injury issues in the past and that often impacted his performances. Returning from a rather long injury layoff, Morris recently featured in the CSA T20 Challenge for the Titans and picked up five wickets.
While he admits that it’s ‘difficult’ to stay match ready at a time when there hasn’t been too many T20 outings, but then, he is looking forward to playing his part in the Royals – a franchise which he knows inside out. “It has been challenging, but I have been doing everything possible to stay cricket fit,” Morris stated.
Over the years, Morris has been one of the impact cricketers in the tournament – featuring for Royals, Delhi Daredevils or Royal Challengers Bangalore, and he admits that the IPL has been a ‘life-changing experience’.
Chris Morris represented RCB in IPL 2020. – BCCI
“It has been a little bit of a roller-coaster, of course, I have been disappointed with injury – I will try my best to come back. IPL has been an incredible experience, the opportunity to play in front of a crowd, and to have done that as long as I have is incredible… I am not done. It is a life changing experience to be part of the IPL. I have nothing but gratitude, hopefully, there’s a new story waiting to be written over the next nine weeks,” he said.
While it will be a fresh start for Morris, his immediate target is to feature in the final XI and leave a mark. “I don’t like setting targets. In Tests, you can set yourself targets, but T20 cricket is so unpredictable… I want to contribute where I can,” he said.
But then, how does he plan to manage his workload? “There has not been much match practice, so what I have had is basically one long pre-season. I was running around, bowling the red ball. I am doing everything I can without actually physically playing club cricket. There is not much club cricket in South Africa, there has not been much of an opportunity to play cricket. Injuries have come at a wrong time. Last year, it was a different one. There wasn’t any cricket coming into the IPL, so there were soft tissue injuries, lot of torn muscles. I have done everything to stay cricket fit. When the first game comes, I will be raring to go…” he said.
After the auction, Royals’ director of cricket, Kumar Sangakkara had said that Morris will have a ‘specific’ role to support Archer. But now with Archer set to miss a large part of the tournament, if not the entire one, Morris will have to step up.
“I hope Jof gets better. It is very unfortunate. It is a big loss to miss Jof for the first half, hopefully he comes back towards the end. It’s a massive miss. He is an absolute rockstar when it comes to cricket. Every single team that I have played in the IPL, my role has been with the new ball and at the death. That doesn’t really change. I have always had fast bowlers in the team and I’ve been there supporting act.”
“It won’t be a new role if I am leading an attack, won’t be new if I am supporting. There is a little bit of responsibility when it comes to leading the attack. But like I said, since it wouldn’t be able to be alien to me,” the South African said.