South Africa allrounder Chris Morris has never played in New Zealand before but one of the first things he saw there made his eyes light up.
"I have never seen a boundary that small and that straight before," Morris said at Eden Park, where the boundary is 55 metres away at its furthest.
While not quite in the David Miller mould of targeting the trees, Morris enjoys a bit of big-hitting himself but is perhaps a little more concerned about not being on the receiving end of many, especially as South Africa intensify their search for a new-ball partner for Kagiso Rabada. Morris has already put himself forward as one of the prime candidates after a successful series against Sri Lanka in which he was the third highest wicket-taker, but more importantly had the lowest economy rate.
Morris only cost his team 3.73 runs an over, impressive considering bowling coach Charl Langeveldt was particularly harsh on the bowlers being too expensive in the first ten overs. Morris has spent a lot of time on tightening his lines and he is pleased to see it paying off. "It's been a lot of hard work and I have done a lot of work on my action and consistency. I know it's been an issue for me in the past so I strive to get consistency and eliminate those boundary balls," Morris said. "There's been a lot of work in the nets, looking at my action, how to clean up my action, bowling straight lines and try to change my thinking about how I am going to bowl."
The changes came after Morris spent almost three months sidelined with a knee injury in the early part of the season. He only played one four-day game at franchise level before finding himself back in the international fold. "The biggest thing for me was to see how my body went. I hadn't played a lot of cricket coming into that Sri Lanka series so I was a little bit nervous but seeing I could get through my ten overs without any niggles quite comfortably was good," he said. "I tried to keep my pace back in the beginning and not bowl too fast but for me it was very good to get through those games and for my confidence it did a lot, especially in that last game."
Morris took eight wickets, including 4 for 31, in the series against Sri Lanka, but does not expect things to happen quite so easily against New Zealand. "There are some serious players coming from New Zealand. They are a very aggressive, attacking team. They do the basics well and they are quite good at home," he said.
South Africa know that only too well. The last time they were in New Zealand was for the 2015 World Cup semi-final when Eden Park witnessed one of the most nail-biting ODIs in history. AB de Villiers said the team have come with "unfinished business" to complete but not specifically Morris. He is not among the nine members of the touring party who have first-hand memories of that day to banish and he is quite happy to simply enjoy his first experience in a new place.
"Fortunately I was not part of those memories. I watched it in South Africa and I was very emotionally attached to it. It was a very emotional day for our fans in South Africa and I am sure there will be a bit of emotion involved for the guys that were here during the World Cup but it adds to the fire of the game. It's going to be exciting."