After county success, Ackerman could be key for Dolphins

2008-09-29 00:00

CONVENOR of selectors Jay Naidoo and his panel have picked a squad of 14 for the KZN Dolphins in their opening SuperSport Series match against the Northern Titans at Kingsmead from Thursday to Sunday.

The most notable inclusion is newcomer HD Ackerman (35), who has just come back from a productive county season with Leicestershire.

The experienced Ackerman scored 1 302 runs for Leicestershire at 56.60 and netted six centuries, including an innings of 199. If he can maintain his good run and bolster what was an under-performing, raw Dolphins middle-order last season, his employers are likely to be satisfied with their acquisition.

Alfonso Thomas, the fast-medium bowler, only returns from England today. Thomas took 30 wickets at 27.23 in 11 matches for Somerset.

Naidoo said it takes time for county bowlers to adjust to local pitches and a decision was made to allow Thomas to find his feet before playing again.

A concern for the Dolphins is Hashim Amla, the Proteas batsman, who is nursing an ankle injury.

“Hashim is being assessed by the medical team and a decision on his fitness is still in the balance,” Naidoo told The Witness yesterday.

“Consequently, we’ve gone with 14 players as Hashim not playing would change the balance of the side.”

That aside, the Dolphins are otherwise fit and will again be captained by Hashim’s older brother Ahmed.

One of the players to watch at Kingsmead will certainly be the Titans leg-spinner Imran Tahir.

The prospect of his bowling in partnership with the Proteas’ Paul Harris provides a quality of spin bowling seldom seen domestically.

Tahir, a Pakistani, comes off a half-season of county cricket where he transformed Hampshire from relegation candidates into title contenders.

Hampshire started the season without an experienced specialist spinner after Shane Warne announced his retirement and Shaun Udal moved on to Middlesex.

Tahir only came into the team in the second half of the season and his figures of 44 wickets in seven matches were almost of Warne-like proportions. He was equally successful in limited overs competition.

The outstanding statistic of his bowling was his strike rate of a wicket every 35.2 balls and an economy rate of 2.84 to go with it.

These are figures that are seldom achieved by a cricketer who practises the complex art of leg-spin bowling.

The SuperSport Series starts what looks set to be one of the most interesting domestic seasons yet.

DOLPHINS:

Imraan Khan, Rivash Gobind, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla (capt), HD Ackerman, Jon Kent, David Miller, Pierre de Bruyn, Daryn Smit, Johann Louw, Quinton Friend, Saidi Mlongo, Ugasen Govender, Yusuf Abdullah.

SS Series matches:

Dolphins vs Titans (Kingsmead), Highveld Lions vs Eastern Cape Warriors (Wanderers), Free State/Griquas Eagles vs Western Cape Cobras (Kimberley).

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