West Australian cricket's lightning-fast pace bowler Lance Morris is the sport's reluctant Wild Thing
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From Jeff Thomson to Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and now Lance Morris, Australian cricket fans have an obsession with lightning-fast pace bowlers.
The West Australian rocketed into the public eye after being called up to the national squad this summer, following a brilliant start to the Sheffield Shield season, in which he's claimed 27 wickets at an average of just 18.
But it was his ability to regularly bowl at more than 150 kilometres per hour — and a nickname he just can't shake — that got people talking.
"'I've always thought there was only one Wild Thing [Tait], so I felt a little bit bad," the 24-year old said laughing.
"I guess I resisted it a bit too much and it stuck with me."
The nickname originated at Scarborough Cricket Club, when Morris first moved to Perth from the South-West town of Dunsborough.
"I rocked up to an indoor training and [I was] just running and bowled as fast as I could, and someone blurted it out," he said.
"Then it made its way into the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association) pathway by one of the guys walking into the physio room and writing on the whiteboard to see the doctor.
"He scrubbed out what I wrote down and then went over it and wrote Wild Thing."
It wasn't until Morris moved to Perth to play grade cricket in the 2015/16 season that he realised he might have what it takes to play professional cricket.
"I remember that after my first few sessions, club coach Wes Robinson, put me in the first grade team straightaway, and I was absolutely amazed," he said.
"I guess that was probably the moment I was like, 'I've actually got a bit of a talent here'."
It took Morris five seasons to crack the WA side, making his Shield debut in 2020. From there, his career has remained on an upward trajectory, becoming the side's leading wicket-taker, and being elevated into the Australian squad.
There was a phone call he won't forget, following a Shield match against Queensland at the Gabba.
"It ended up being a draw, but everyone was in pretty high spirits anyway, and [WA coach] Adam Voges just came up to me and said, basically, you're going to get a phone call in the next 10 minutes, I think you probably want to answer it," he said.
Josh Hazlewood has seen enough of fellow fast bowler Lance Morris to suggest the Western Australian is edging closer to a Test debut, perhaps as early as this week's series finale against South Africa.
"And sure enough, I did. Tony Dodemaide was on the other end and basically said, 'we'd love to have you on board' and honestly it didn't really sink in.
"Like even the next day I was on the first flight down to Adelaide and sitting in the hotel room. It was just a whirlwind of emotion. It was amazing."
Morris didn't feature against the West Indies or South Africa, but has been named to travel to India for the four Test series starting in February.
He's under no illusions about what he brings to the side.
"My point of difference is my pace," Morris said.
"There's no point in parking it and saying 'I'll bowl 130 today and try and swing it and hit top of off', because that that's not going to get me a game.
"I need to be that intimidating fast bowler. And I love it. It's such a good job to have."
While Morris has excelled with the red ball, he still finds himself in and out of the Perth Scorchers T20 side, competing for spots with veteran campaigners like AJ Tye and Jason Behrendorff.
But he won't limit himself to red ball cricket at this stage of his career.
"I think I'm too young to draw a line through any format of cricket," he said.
"I absolutely love playing both formats. Red and white ball.
"That is definitely something I want to strive towards, just getting a bit more of a consistent run with the white ball in my hand."
Morris has spent some time with one of WA's greatest cricketing products Dennis Lillee.
The pair had a net session, in which Lillee gave the emerging quick some pointers.
"He was amazing. He was really big on [the] run-up," Morris said.
"Like holding your momentum through the crease and using it to your benefit, so that it takes a bit of stress off your body because in the past, I've definitely been like a bit of a slinger.
"I've gradually found a way to use my run-up a bit better. He was great to work with and he's always been on the other end of the phone if I need to touch base."
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West Australian cricket's lightning-fast pace bowler Lance Morris is the sport's reluctant Wild Thing – ABC News