How would you spend Rs 16 crore? A fancy car or maybe a plush apartment? That’s not something Chris Morris, the family man, is looking forward to do with the bag full of money he is going to get this Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

During the 2021 players’ auction, Rajasthan Royals outbid multiple franchises to secure the services of the South African all-rounder for a record sum of Rs 16.25 crore — highest in the history of the IPL beating Rs 16 crore Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) spent for Yuvraj Singh in 2016. Morris wants to use the money to secure the future of his family.

“I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed in my career to have the IPL to be very, very good to me,” Morris said on Tuesday.

“I don’t really plan on buying things. I just want to look after my family one day, and above that to make sure my kid can get to school, can go to university, can buy him car when he turns 18 and gets his license. And if I want to take my family on a holiday or something like that, I just want to make sure my family is set off. I want to make sure they have a comfortable life. At the end of the day, my family is the most important thing to me.”

‘Price tag’ pressure
Morris, who reunited with the Rajasthan Royals after spending six years with other teams, knows the side effects of a big price tag but feels it eases out as the tournament progresses.

“It’s natural to have a little bit of added pressure when something like that happens. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure. But fortunately enough, in the past I have been coming in with quite a big price tag on my head,” Morris, who played for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) last season, said.

“At the end of the day, when you get on the field you need to perform no matter what your ‘price tag’ is. You need to perform as well as you can to win a game for your team or contribute to winning a game.

“So, yeah, 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.

“The more and more you get into the tournament, you just focus on playing cricket and having fun with the teammates. So, probably the most important thing that I can look forward to is having fun with everyone.”

‘Nothing new’
After the auction, Kumar Sangakkara, Rajasthan Royals’ director of cricket, had said that Morris role would be to support their pace spearhead Jofra Archer. But now with Archer set to miss a large part of the tournament, if not the whole season, Morris will have to take up the responsibility of leading the attack. Is he ready?

“I just hope Jof gets better. It’s an unfortunate thing. We are obviously wishing him a very quick recovery. It’s a big loss, missing Jof for hopefully (only) the first half. I believe he will come back towards the end, but it’s a massive miss though. The guy is a Rockstar when it comes to cricket. He bowls with a lot of speed and smacks it out of the ground and is an absolute athlete when he fields,” Morris said.

“But, every single team I have played for in the IPL, my role has been with the new ball and at the death. My role has always been taking the new ball and bowling at the death and maybe one in the middle.

“So, the roles don’t really change whether it’s supporting other bowlers or leading the attack. I’ve always had fast bowlers in the teams and I’ve been their supporting act, if you want to call it that.

“So, it won’t be a new role if I am found leading the attack, it won’t be a new role if I’m supporting someone else, another quick bowler if we do need to sign another one. It won’t be a new role for me.

“There’s a little bit of responsibility when it comes to leading the attack, but like I said, it wouldn’t be alien to me.

Different, yet similar roles
Obviously, he is not at the level of Ben Stokes, at least not in terms of batting abilities, but Morris possesses a similar set of skills. And the two will also be playing different roles for the Rajasthan Royals. If Stokes would be their mainstay in the top-order, Morris would be expected to provide them some quick runs at the end.

“We have got different roles. Obviously, Stokes opens the batting. He’s one of the best, if not the best, all-rounders playing at the moment. His role is up at the top of the order, he is batting at No. 3 for England in international cricket,” he said.

“I am a low-order batter, so my role is to finish off the games with the bat which hopefully I can do more of that this year. Last year I had a bit of a stinker. I am looking to contribute more with the bat.”

But when it comes to bowling, Morris’ role would assume more importance, especially in the absence of Archer.

“With the ball, we are obviously different. I think he bowled a lot less last year in the IPL than he did in the in the last few IPLs. But the guy has got the magic touch when it comes to the game of cricket,” he praised Stokes for his match-winning ability.

“So, if we are feeding off each other in our different roles in the team, we could be quite an interesting duo to come up against. It’s two completely different roles, but almost a similar role; he’s looking after the top off, I’m trying to look after the bottom off. Hopefully, we can feed off each other this year.”

‘Unlucky with injuries’
Morris has had to deal with injuries in the past and that has often kept him away from cricket and affected his opportunities as well as performances. He recently returned from one such injury layoff and played for the Titans in the Cricket South Africa’s T20 Challenge where he picked up five wickets in five matches.

Coming into the IPL, he doesn’t have enough game time under his belt as there hasn’t been many matches recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions. But Morris said, he has “been doing everything I can” to be match ready.

“It’s like I’ve had one long pre-season; been running around, been bowling my overs, been bowling with the red ball. …there’s no club cricket in South Africa at the moment. It started just before I left. So, there haven’t been opportunities to really play cricket,” Morris said.

“…but injury is a part of the game. Obviously, I’ve been on the unlucky side of it, I like to call it that. All my preps have been good and injuries have come at the wrong time. I think last year was a little bit of a different one because there wasn’t any cricket coming into the IPL. We saw a lot of soft tissue injuries, a lot of pulled muscles, a lot of torn muscles just because of the lack of cricket. So, like I keep reiterating, I’ve done everything I can to stay cricket fit and when that first game comes I’ll be ready to go.”

‘Life-changing experience’
With his big-hitting abilities and death bowling prowess, Morris has always been seen as an impact player in T20 cricket. He has played for four IPL franchises — Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore — performing varied roles with enough success.

“It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster (ride). I think, naturally, in sport there are more downs than ups,” Morris said looking back at his IPL journey so far.

“I’ve obviously been a little bit disappointed in the past with injury. These things happen, we know that. I’ve tried my best to combat that, but all in all I feel it has been an unbelievable experience for myself. and a

“Anyone who plays will tell you that the opportunity to play in front of crowds, opportunity to play on probably, if not as big as international cricket, the second biggest stage in the world in terms of cricket.

“So, to have the opportunity to have done that for as long as I have, it’s been an incredible journey. It really has. I’m having, I’m not done obviously. You want to use the word life-changing, but every single time you come to the IPL, your life changes. Whether it’s personal, whether it’s in the cricket, whether it’s in anything.

“It’s been a life-changing experience to be part of the IPL. So, nothing but gratitude.

“Hopefully, there’s a new story to be written over this next nine weeks.”

IPL to T20 World Cup
While he has been in huge demand in the IPL, his international career hasn’t taken off as many had expected for various reasons. With the T20 World Cup to be played in India in October-November this year, IPL 2021 could become his vehicle to secure a berth in the South African side. But Morris he is not looking that far ahead.

“I haven’t even looked that far (IPL success helping return to the South African team),to be honest,” he said.

“I’m just focusing on playing for Rajasthan Royals. That’s my immediate focus. That’s my port of call right now. And you know, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there if it ever arrives.

“I don’t like setting targets because cricket is unpredictable, especially T20 cricket. In Test cricket, you can almost set yourself a goal … but T20 cricket is so unpredictable, it’s a monster this game that we’re playing. So, to set targets, I’m not really a big fan of that.

“At the end the day, I just want to contribute. I think that’s my biggest thing: Contribute where I can.”