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When Chris Morris learned that Chennai Super Kings shelled out $625,000 in the 2013 IPL auction to acquire his services for the season, he exclaimed that he hadn’t seen so much money in his life before.
After playing 11 IPL games, the South African all-rounder has made quite a few entries on the list of things he saw for the first time. India, its heat and its cricket crazy people, the deafening noise at the jam-packed stadiums and the experience of playing in the challenging alien conditions are a few of them.
To his credit, Morris has done a commendable job picking 11 wickets at a decent strike-rate of 7.65 despite this being his first trip to India. In a chat to iplt20.com after CSK’s game with Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium the 26-year old all-rounder shared his IPL experience with the Super Kings.
You must have settled well into the whole IPL atmosphere now. Feeling at home?
Yes, very much so. This is an unbelievable team. The guys are very nice here and there is a big family environment in the team. I’m having a very good time.
Did the 2012 CLT20 give you a fair idea of what to expect in the IPL?
You can never prepare for what you’re going to get in the IPL. It’s a completely different world out here in terms of how cricket crazy the people are. It’s been outstanding from day-one in terms of my team, the crowd and the massive support. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. I got a bit of a shock when I got here but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.
You must have heard stories about the IPL from your South African mates. How do you relate those stories to your own experiences?
I think the parties have died down a bit since the first season. The guys explained to me how hot it was in Chennai but I didn’t realise what they were talking about until I got there. Faf (du Plessis) told me that the crowds are so noisy, you cannot hear the person standing next to you and you can’t think. I said, ‘yeah, yeah, how loud could it be’. When I got on the field, I was shocked. You actually can’t hear what’s going on.
Despite coming to India for the first time, you seemed to have adjusted to these wickets pretty well. Did you prepare beforehand?
I think it’s good-length to good-length anywhere in the world. To be honest I have been lucky a few times with some of my wickets. I bring something different to the team, I’m told. That means I must just keep doing what I have been doing and keep things simple.
You haven’t got too many batting opportunities given CSK’s batting strengths. Would you like more time in the middle to experience batting in India?
My chance is going to come when I am needed to hit some out of the park. But if it doesn’t come, as long as we are winning, I’m happy. For the sheer experience of batting on Indian wickets, yes! I’ve had only a handful of balls to face. The nets have been interesting though.
You have another SA all-rounder in Albie Morkel with you in the team. What role has he played in easing you into the tournament?
He’s been very good to me. Albie has got a lot of experience; he’s been in the IPL since the first season. Besides a lot of advice on my game, he has helped me in many other important ways. He keeps me calm when I need to be calm and pushes me when needed. He’s a brilliant bloke to have around.
What quality of MS Dhoni’s captaincy stands out for you?
He never stresses and if he is, he never shows it. He always believes that we’ve got a chance, no matter what the match situation. As a new guy in the team, he’s been very good to me. Every time I have needed a chat, he’s come and chatted to me. He’s a down to earth, nice guy. But the ultimate thing about him is that he’s very, very cool under pressure.
You were pretty excited to play under the mentorship of Stephen Fleming. How has that been?
It’s been unbelievable, a dream come true. He’s such a great guy. You hear stories about different coaches and he has just been absolutely outstanding. He’s a brilliant guy off the field but when it’s business time, it’s business time. He has so much cricket knowledge that you can pick up. I’ve had a couple of batting sessions with him but the main thing is he backs you 100 per cent. He says that you have been picked for a reason and gives you the freedom to express yourself.
0: Number of matches lost by Mumbai Indians at home in IPL2013. They have won all five.
1: Chennai Super Kings suffered their first defeat in an away match in IPL2013. They had won all four previous games.
50: Number of matches won by Mumbai Indians in IPL. They become the second team to win 50 games after Chennai Super Kings (56).
60: The victory margin for Mumbai Indians - biggest ever by any side against Chennai Super Kings. Royal Challengers Bangalore had beaten them by 36 runs at Bengaluru in 2010.
79: Chennai Super Kings’ total – their lowest in IPL. It was the first time Chennai Super Kings were bowled out for lesser since their 109 against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur in 2008. It’s also the fourth lowest total in IPL history.