‘Wild Thing’ Morris wants enforcer role as Australia eye need for speed

Australia are considering unleashing the “Wild Thing” of their fast bowling options, Lance Morris, in a 150km/h shootout with South Africa in the third Test at the SCG.

Chosen as cover for Mitchell Starc earlier in the summer to play a potential enforcer role, Morris is hoping he will get the nod from selectors for the Sydney Test, which starts on Wednesday, after Starc and Cameron Green were both ruled out by finger injuries.

“It’s honestly a whirlwind,” Morris said before flying from Melbourne to Sydney with the squad on Saturday. “It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around and there’s a little bit of nervous energy, but I guess that means something exciting could happen. I’m looking at it that way.”

Australia have dominated the first two Tests to win the series, but some of the most explosive moments have been delivered by South African tearaway Anrich Nortje.

Asked if he could match Nortje for pace, Morris replied: “That’d be nice. I think he’s probably got me at the moment, but that’s definitely something to strive to. I was seriously impressed watching the last Test.

“I honestly would say that’s probably one of the better spells of bowling I’ve seen just taking into consideration the conditions. It was 37 degrees, or something like that, and he was averaging over 150, so it was pretty impressive.”

Lance Morris practising in Melbourne last week.Credit:Getty

Morris, 24, has also been clocked at 150km/h and has every intention of unleashing if he gets the opportunity.

“It’s been probably a bit more of a regular occurrence this year,” he said. “When everything’s running smoothly, and I’m feeling pretty good, hopefully I can push up to around 150, we’ll see what happens.

“I don’t want to change my game too much. I’m going to try and bowl fast and enjoy it as much as I can. That’s been my role in my first class career. It’s got me to where I am now. I want to try and stick with that.”

Morris has been playing first class cricket for little more than two years, claiming 59 wickets at an average of 25 in 18 matches. He’s also made an impression in the Big Bash.

SCG curator Adam Lewis.Credit:Janie Barrett

With so much cricket at the SCG this season through the Twenty20 World Cup and Big Bash, along with a one-day international and a Sheffield Shield game, there have been plenty of reports about how the various pitches have played.

SCG curator Adam Lewis believes the Test pitch will play the same as the Shield game between NSW and Western Australia five weeks ago, when spinners claimed 21 of the 40 wickets to fall in a low-scoring game. NSW off-spinner Chris Green was player of the match with nine wickets on debut.

“It’s going to be different to previous years,” Lewis said of the Test pitch. “It’s rolled up really well, but there’s a little less grass.

“There is a bit of rye grass in it as well, which is a cool-season grass. It’s been a tough summer with the cold and the rain. It’s been hard to grow warm-season grass.”

This would appear to give Ashton Agar the chance to play. His left-arm finger spin would complement the off-spin of Nathan Lyon. It would also mean Agar, with three first class centuries and a top score in Test cricket of 98, could bat at No.7, making room for three fast bowlers along with the two spinners.

It would be a smooth move up one place for wicketkeeper Alex Carey to bat at No.6, given he is coming off a polished century in the Melbourne Test.

Playing Morris and Agar on a turning pitch would also give selectors a chance to see how the pair go in conditions more similar to India than anywhere else in the country, given Australia’s next assignment is a four-Test tour of India in February and March.

With captain Pat Cummins certain to play, it would leave two fast-bowling spots for Morris, Scott Boland and Josh Hazlewood, who has recovered from side strain.

Until the selectors see the pitch, they have no idea which attack to pick.

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