Cape Town — When the 15-man Proteas squad for the final two ODIs against Sri Lanka was announced on Monday, it became clear that Chris Morris’ World Cup charge had ended.
These are the final two outings for the Proteas before they announce their travelling party for England, and Morris will almost certainly not be on that plane.
It is a perplexing situation.
Dubbed the ‘Million Dollar Man’ after his record IPL signing with the Delhi Daredevils in 2016, Morris has long been backed as the limited overs allrounder South Africa have so desperately needed since the days of Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Mark Boucher.
He hits the ball a mile, can bowl over 140 kph regularly and, at 31, he has experience on his side.
But, for whatever reason, the national selectors have not bought into what Morris has to offer and they have instead looked elsewhere for their World Cup game-changer.
Injuries have not helped his cause, but a quite staggering statistic is that Morris’s last ODI appearance came over a year ago in February 2018 against India at Centurion.
An explosive player who promised so much, it is now difficult to see Morris adding to his 34 ODIs until there is a change of management and leadership post-2019.
An ODI average of 19.65 just hasn’t ticked enough boxes, and Morris is now firmly behind Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and even international rookie Wiaan Mulder in the all-rounder pecking order.
Two of those three are likely to be selected for the World Cup squad, but Morris is not in the picture.
“We don’t view Morris as a No 7 batsman,” CSA’s selection convenor Linda Zondi told Sport24 on Monday.
That’s about all there is to it, really.
Skipper Faf du Plessis has said numerous times that the World Cup all-rounder, who is expected to bat at No 7 in England, needs to be a batting all-rounder.
He needs to be a player who can come in with the side in trouble and steady the ship, but also a player who can clear the ropes when the situation commands it.
While Morris has one of those qualities, he has not done enough with the bat – at national or franchise level – to convince those that matter in the Proteas brains trust.
“It’s really difficult and we can’t take everyone,” Zondi added.
“Dwaine has gone back to franchise level and has put in the performances, so he needs to be given another run.
“Andile is a bowling all-rounder, but we believe he has the potential to be a No 7. He has come good with the bat at franchise level lately. He hasn’t been quite consistent enough, but he has worked hard on his game and looks to have turned a corner.”
Zondi added that selecting Morris in the T20 squad where he could operate in short bursts was a “no brainer”, but being tasked with bowling 10 overs in an ODI might prove problematic given his recent injuries.
“He is a superb T20 cricketer,” Zondi said.
“But in the ODI side right now it is all about finding the right balance. We could take any player and scrutinise, but we have to make these decisions.”
Sport24 also asked Zondi whether there was any substance to rumours that Morris’s exclusion was down to personal issues with the Proteas leadership.
“Not at all,” he said.
“If there were any personality clashes or any issues with the way he trains, then the coaches would have to let us know and nothing like that has come my way.”
The fourth ODI takes place in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.