Just how fast is Lance Morris?
The West Australian paceman, who is on the verge of making his Test debut this week, was recorded bowling at 153km/h in a first-class match last summer.
He managed to snap Shaun Marsh’s bat in half during a Big Bash League match at Marvel Stadium in early 2020.
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His own teammates dread facing him in the nets.
“Blokes are scared to face him,” West Australian teammate Josh Philippe confessed through gritted teeth.
“It’s not much fun.”
‘FASTER THAN STARC’
Born in Busselton near the Margaret River, Morris has been dubbed ‘The Wild Thing’ — a moniker previously bestowed to former Australian quick Shaun Tait.
He earned a Sheffield Shield call-up for Western Australia in October 2020 before sliding in and out of the starting XI throughout the summer, struggling to cement his spot in a side packed with talent.
Yet two years later, Morris has been rushed into Australia’s Test squad for the Adelaide day-night fixture against the West Indies as bowling reinforcement, putting himself within touching distance of a coveted baggy green cap.
Morris’ inclusion surprised many casual cricket fans, who questioned how an unproven bolter could get the nod ahead of Queensland’s Mark Steketee and New South Wales’ Sean Abbott.
But his call-up comes after a remarkable 18 months in the Sheffield Shield, where he claimed 47 wickets at 22.09 and helped Western Australia win their 16th title.
He is currently the leading wicket-taker of this summer’s Sheffield Shield with 27 scalps at a strike rate of 33.1, including a career-best 5-36 against New South Wales in October.
“He bowls head-high bumpers perfectly, and then is on the money top of the stumps,” West Australian teammate Hilton Cartwright told foxsports.com.au at the Big Bash League launch on Monday.
“Whether he bowls one over or 30 overs in a game, his pace stays the same.
“It’s amazing to watch him go about his business.
“He’s the fastest bowler in Australia at the moment. I genuinely think Lance is faster than Mitchell Starc.”
KEY CHANGES THAT PROMPTED RAPID RISE
Morris lacked consistency early in his career, which partially contributed to what made him so terrifying – batters had no idea where the next delivery would land, if at all.
During a tour match at the WACA in 2017, his first delivery to Joe Root sailed over the England captain’s head for a comical wide, replays of which did the rounds on social media channels.
It’s an issue the 24-year-old has since rectified – his control and accuracy seemingly improves with every match he plays.
“What’s taken him from being a good Shield bowler to dominating this year is his control,” West Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie told foxsports.com.au.
“This year, he’s been able to bowl extended spells, build some pressure, all while bowling that gas pace.
“He’s bowling absolutely beautifully at the moment.
“It’s scary to think what he could do (with the pink Kookaburra) … I think he’s going to dominate if he gets a chance.”
Morris has also become stronger and fitter, allowing him to bowl longer spells and establish himself as one of Australia’s most intimidating pace bowlers.
Worryingly, he believes he can get even faster.
“I‘m just settling into my body now,” Morris told ESPNcricinfo earlier this summer.
“They say around 26 is when you basically mature as a bowler. I‘ve got still room to get faster.”
Lance Morris in the Sheffield Shield
2020/21 – 12 wickets at 36.83
2021/22 – 20 wickets at 27.05
2022/23 – 27 wickets at 18.40
MOMENT MORRIS PROVED HE WAS TEST-READY
Morris offered a glimpse of his destructive potential during a Sheffield Shield contest against Queensland at the WACA last month.
The right-armer dismissed Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja, the world’s No. 2 and No. 7 ranked Test batters respectively, in the same over.
Labuschagne was trapped on the front pad, comprehensively beaten for pace and trudging back towards the sheds without questioning the umpire’s decision.
Three deliveries later, Usman Khawaja tentatively prodded at a full delivery that was edged towards the slip cordon.
Morris finished with 4/26 from 8.3 overs as Queensland was rolled for 97. It made national selectors sit up and take notice.
Whether or not Morris makes his Test debut at Adelaide Oval on Thursday depends mainly on the fitness of Mitchell Starc, whose workload management comes under the spotlight ahead of a busy 14 months for the national men’s team.
Starc would never willingly miss a Test match, let alone a pink-ball contest, but Cricket Australia may consider resting the left-armer ahead of the South Africa series, opening the door for Morris.
Ashes hero Scott Boland is expected to replace Pat Cummins for the day-night Test if the skipper doesn’t recover from his quad complaint, which appears likely.
“At the moment as it sits they’ve pulled up well.”
Morris will represent the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League this summer, plying his trade alongside a plethora of quicks, including but not limited to Jason Behrendorff, Tymal Mills, Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye.
The Scorchers will get their campaign underway with a grand final rematch against the Sydney Sixers at Optus Stadium on Saturday, December 17.
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