IPL 2021: You need to perform, no matter what the price tag is, says Chris Morris
The South African all-rounder admitted that there would always be 'little bit of pressure' while going into a new season with a heavy price tag
From Juan Sebastian Veron and Ricardo Kaka to Philippe Coutinho, football, over the years, has seen several top players buckle under the huge pressure of living up to the expectations following big-money deals with elite clubs.
Cricket had no such stories until the Indian Premier League (IPL) became the game changer, making some cricketers overnight millionaires.
Since the inception of the IPL in 2008, the league has seen many marquee names clinch million-dollar deals only to flounder on the field.
Andrew Flintoff (2009), Kevin Pietersen (2009), Glenn Maxwell (2013), Yuvraj Singh (2015), Shane Watson (2016), to name a few, earned big money deals at IPL auctions, but their team managements were left scratching their heads after hugely disappointing performances.
Now as the new season of the IPL begins on April 9, one man will be under the spotlight. Chris Morris, the giant South African, will defend the Rajasthan Royals colours in the cash-rich league as the most expensive IPL player of all time, with the 2008 champions splashing out $2.25 million on the South African at the last auction.
Morris, who was released by the Royal Challengers Bangalore after the 2020 IPL, sparked a fierce bidding war at this year’s auction before Royals clinched the deal.
And the veteran South African all-rounder admitted that there would always be ‘little bit of pressure’ while going into a new season with a heavy price tag.
“I think it's natural to have a little bit of a pressure when something like that has happened. I'd be lying to you if there wasn't any pressure,” said Morris in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“But at the end of the day, you need to perform, no matter what the price tag is.
“Yes, there is a little bit of added pressure, but the pressure that you get from a price tag doesn’t affect you on the cricket field. At the end of the day, you need to perform as well as you can to win a game for your team or contribute to winning a game,” added Morris, who took 11 wickets from nine matches for the RCB last season.
“I think the more and more you get into the tournament, the more and more you get into it, and you just focus on playing cricket and having fun with your teammates. So that’s what I am looking forward to, having fun with everyone.”
But Morris’ task is not going to be easy with Rajasthan Royals losing pace spearhead Jofra Archer for the first half of the tournament due to an elbow injury.
In Archer’s absence, Morris will be expected to provide the breakthroughs for the Royals and the pressure would also be on the 33-year-old player to get those yorkers on target in the death overs.
“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,” Morris said.
“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, it wouldn't be able to be alien to me.”
The South African, famous for his big shots in the lower middle order, hopes to form a lethal partnership with all-rounder Ben Stokes at the Royals where the England superstar opens the innings and bowls a few overs.
“I think we have got different roles. Stokes opens the batting. He is one of the best in the world if not the best. My role is to finish off games with the bat which I hope I can do more of this year,” Morris said.
“With the ball it’s different I think he bowled a lot less in the IPL last year than he did in the previous years. But the guy has got the magic touch when it comes to cricket.
“So, you know, if we feed off each other in our different roles on the team, you know, I think we could be quite an interesting duo to come up against,” Morris said.
The Royals, which finished last in the 2020 IPL under the leadership of Steve Smith, parted ways with the Australian star batsman and replaced him in the leadership role with wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson this year.
Having shared the dressing room with Samson in the past, Morris is looking forward to playing with the graceful shotmaker.
“I'm obviously quite lucky I've got a very good relationship with Sanju, I have batted with him at Rajasthan and in Delhi. I don’t see him as a young captain I see him as a seriously good cricket player, whose got a great cricket brain,” said Morris.
“For a guy who can keep wickets and field, he's seen different angles, different approaches from the back and the side. So, you know, I'm sure it's got some good ideas, I'm sure it's got some interesting things that we can discuss when it comes to tactics.”
Finally, Morris revealed that it was a humbling experience for him when big teams were engaged in a bidding war for his signature.
“I didn’t expect to be bought for that much and so many teams to employ my services. It’s humbling, I never thought I’d be playing these many IPLs,” he said.
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