Big test for Dolphin youngsters

2010-10-29 00:00

TONIGHT’S MTN40 Championship opener between the Dolphins and the visiting Cobras will see two contrasting sides on display.

While the Cape side has the experience and class of the likes of Herschelle Gibbs and the wily Claude Henderson, the Dolphins have several young, new faces determined to make an impression.

The Cobras will look to Gibbs in particular to spark them at the top of the order, and the former Proteas ace will have fond memories of his last MTN40 knock at Kingsmead.

His classy century was the difference between the sides, and the Dolphins know only too well how important it is to knock him over early.

Gibbs may have fallen off the international boat, but he is still a notch above many in the domestic game.

Now that he is a limited-overs specialist, he will be looking to kick off his campaign in style.

The Cobras also have former Dolphin Johann Louw in tow, and he has never been shy of a mighty heave at the end of an innings.

The Dolphins, meanwhile, are banking on a fair smattering of youth to fly the flag this season.

Exciting but inexperienced players like Glen Addicott and Devon Conway have entered the fray, and both offer talent aplenty in the shorter formats.

Addicott was desperately unlucky to miss out on a SuperSport Series cap last week, as he was struck by illness at the same time as he was called up to take the place of Jon Kent.

In his absence, Conway stepped in and made hay against the Lions.

The slightly-built left-hander surprised coach Graham Ford with his ability to hit a long ball, and the Dolphins will be looking for more of the same tonight.

“For a little guy, he can hit the ball a fair distance,” Ford enthused, whilst also stressing that the make-up of his side is yet to be confirmed.

The new rules, which now allow two “substitutes” will give teams more flexibility — and give spectators and humble hacks even more headaches.

Soon, the noble game that was once cricket will resemble football, with three substitutes and an even shorter playing time.

Quite why there is so much tampering with the product one wonders, but bowlers and captains will certainly be pleased that the number of power-play overs has been reduced to a slightly more humane 15 out of 40.

Last season saw half the overs in each innings played with fielding restrictions.

It certainly is a batsman’s game is this MTN40, and many a bowler will be cringing at the prospect of the pending carnage.

The Dolphins are a bit light in that department, as left-arm seamer Yusuf Abdulla has only just returned from injury.

He bowled seven overs in a 40-over game for the KZN Coastals side last week, but the “Dundee Express” admitted that he was very unlikely to play in the opener.

His chum from IPL duty, Ravi Bopara, will certainly be on display tonight, though.

The English batsman signed up primarily for this format, as he bids to make a late charge for inclusion in the England ODI squad on their tour to Australia.

Bopara is yet to fire for his new franchise but, if and when he does, he can be just as potent as the talented Mr Gibbs on the other team.

Squads:

Dolphins: Imraan Khan (Captain), Divan van Wyk, Ravi Bopara, Ahmed Amla, Daryn Smit, Glen Addicott, Kyle Abbott, Quinton Friend, Imran Tahir, Devon Conway, Cameron Delport, Jon Kent, Yusuf Abdulla, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Cobras: Andrew Puttick, Claude Henderson, Herschelle Gibbs, Johann Louw, Justin Kemp (capt), Justin Ontong, Monde Zondeki, Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan Canning, Stiaan Van Zyl, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Vernon Philander.

TV — SuperSport 5 from 3.45 pm.

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