South Africa | Graeme Smith provides update on Chris Morris situation, confirms talks

Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals Twitter)

Chris Morris (Rajasthan Royals Twitter)

Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith couldn't provide enough clarity on whether all-rounder Chris Morris will be available for national team selection for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Morris's status as a highly valued T20 freelancer soared exponentially when the Rajasthan Royals shelled out more than R30-million for his services for this season's Indian Premier League. 

The rewards, especially with the ball, have been decent for the Royals with Morris second on the wicket-taking charts with 14 wickets at 16 with best bowling figures of 4/23 against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The returns with the bat have been less sporadic, but when he bashed an unbeaten 18-ball 36 with four sixes against the Delhi Capitals, it ensured David Miller's 62 wasn't in vain.

Smith said discussions with Morris had taken place but in February, Morris had said the last time he had a conversation with CSA people was when Ottis Gibson was still coach.

Smith also lauded Morris's performances but also said there's no straightforward right for any player to play for the national team.

"It's been noted that he said there haven't been discussions. Through the lockdowns, there were discussions, and he was part of our high-performance fitness programmes," Smith said.

"No one will have a definitive right to play. If there's an opportunity to be selected and the selectors feel you're ready and they want to give you a go, then it's about performance.

"Of late, his performances have been really good in the IPL and at the start of our own T20 tournament."

While the freelancer experiment has worked well for the West Indies, Smith was concerned about the intensity of the cricket played outside of international cricket.

Morris last played international cricket in 2019 when he went to the disastrous Cricket World Cup as a replacement for Anrich Nortje. His last T20I appearance was against Sri Lanka in the same year.  

In contrast, AB de Villiers last featured in T20I cricket against Bangladesh in 2017 while his last ODI was against India in February 2018.

"There's a different pressure and intensity that comes with international cricket and you can't go into it if your heart isn't quite there," Smith said.

"Once you chat to the guys, you need to know that they're fully committed and that they will be able to do everything that will be required of them.

"That is the question mark with free agents. If they're ready and prepared, then it's down to the selectors to see if they fit into the model."

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