Battered Dolphins have lots to prove

2014-11-20 00:00

NOTHING but a win tomorrow night against the Cobras at Kingsmead in a Ram Slam T20 Challenge match will suffice for the Dolphins camp.

It’s been a week of serious reflection on and off the field for the team after a weekend which saw them give the battling Warriors their first win of the competition and then capitulate in spectacular fashion to the Knights on Sunday.

Since returning from the Champions League in India, the Dolphins’ strategy has been one of showing purpose from ball one in the T20 format, something that looked more than ugly in the Knights game.

The T20 format leaves little room for error. While drawing and entertaining the crowds, it’s a different story on the field, where there is a fine line between success and failure and making decisions.

While they had their backs to the wall against the Knights, the match situation put the Dolphins in a quandary. They were losing wickets quickly, yet they needed to keep the scoreboard ticking. Not easy when you are out in the middle, subject to the fans’ wrath after the game.

One man who was stunned by the batting performance that saw the Dolphins dismissed for 82 —● their lowest ever score in T20 cricket — was batting consultant Dale Benkenstein.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening out there,” he said. “All the work put in over the past four seasons or so was shattered. Besides the wickets falling so quickly, there was no pattern to the innings.”

Benkenstein, a faithful servant to KZN cricket and a man who turned the fortunes of Durham around in the UK, is an astute student of the game. While he may come across quiet at times, he has high expectations and expects a professional performance from those who make a living from the game.

“There was no need to try and smash every ball and score from whatever came the batsmen’s way. It was obvious we were in deep trouble early on, yet no one took control, calmed it down and gave some thought as to getting out the deep hole we were in,” he said.

“Take a few balls to gauge the pace, bounce and movement before deciding on a plan of action. That is the difference between good players and great players.

“Good players, who have the talent, will carry on as usual, hoping whatever they do comes off. Great players will change their game, play differently, look for gaps in the field and work the ball around while keeping the scoreboard ticking.”

It’s left to the imagination as to what’s been said behind closed doors, but Benkenstein’s comments and approach is just plain logic.

We can only hope his words of wisdom have settled in the players’ heads and, with common sense added, see a more mature, composed and decent T20 gameplan for tomorrow’s game.

Teenager Andile Phehlukwayo is back in the mix as is Dwayne Bravo who has recovered from his weekend niggle. Cody Chetty is still down with hamstring problems.

DOLPHINS SQUAD

Morne van Wyk (capt), Cameron Delport, Jonathan Vandiar, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Dwayne Bravo, Khaya Zondo, Robbie Frylinck, Andile Phehlukwayo, Prenelan Subrayen, Keshav Maharaj, Rabian Engelbrecht and Craig Alexander.

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