Who would have expected a little-known batsman without any expression on his face to walk away with the Man of the Match award against Australia? Runako Morton was not even sure of his place in the West Indies XI when they took on the world champions at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium last Wednesday. Then Shivnarine Chanderpaul suffered food poisoning and Morton got his chance.
The right-hander who played one of the worst innings in One-day history, a 31-ball 'duck' only in his previous outing — the final of the DLF Cup in Malaysia against the same opposition — transformed dramatically, scoring an unbeaten 90 that bolstered the West Indian score-sheet.
Before that knock, the 28-year-old from Nevis was in the news for reasons that had little to do with the two hundreds, five fifties and 773 runs that he has scored in 23 ODIs since debut in 2002. His disciplinary record is rather interesting.
But Morton has changed. His captain Brian Lara said recently he is the best-behaved player in the team.
Morton said here on Monday: "It is important to be disciplined. I am a friendly guy. Past is past and I have moved on."
Asked what was different between his last two innings against Australia — the DLF Cup duck and the 90 not out at the Brabourne — he said: "The duck was one bad day. I watched it on video and tried to assess it and improve upon whatever went wrong. I am glad it is behind me. Even the performance against Australia in Mumbai is behind me. I start every innings new."
Two legends have played an important role in shaping Morton's career. "Clive Lloyd (who has joined the team here as a consultant) has been a blessing in disguise,' he says. "A man with that experience has a positive impact."
The other player is Lara. The West Indian captain and Morton put on a match-winning partnership --- 137 for the fifth wicket --- against Australia.
"We don't just learn from Lara on the field but also off the field," Morton said. "It was not the first time we batted together. Batting with him is easy, it takes a lot of pressure off you."
Morton will take the confidence from his last effort while taking on India here on Thursday.
Morton's brush with notoriety
2001: Expelled from an academy for arriving late and visiting his wife without permission.
2002: Abandons the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka ostensibly to attend his grandmother's funeral. It is then discovered that one of his grandmothers died 16 years ago while the other was alive.
2002: WICB suspends him for a year for misconduct on the 'A' tour of England.
2004: Spends a day in police custody after stabbing his cousin in the chest following an altercation.