Dolphins are thrown to the Lions

2008-10-09 00:00

THE situation facing the KZN Dolphins isn’t enviable.

They go into their Kingsmead SuperSport Series match against the Highveld Lions from today without three leading batsmen — Hashim Amla, HD Ackerman and all-rounder Jon Kent — and face the most potent attack in the competition.

To make matters worse, the log-leading Lions welcome back top batsman and captain Neil McKenzie. The Dolphins also face an opening batsman in Alviro Petersen who delivered 34 fours and three sixes in back-to-back centuries against the Warriors last weekend.

Then there’s an angrier-than-usual fast bowler to get up the nervous Dolphins top-order’s nostrils. As if he needs any excuse — even on a good day — to get pumped up, Andre Nel has just been dropped from the Proteas altogether for the upcoming round of matches in the merry-go-round that is international cricket.

The fiery paceman is no doubt particularly peeved that the anticipated easy pickings presented by minnows Kenya and Bangladesh have been snatched away from him by the SA selectors — and the Dolphins could cop the collateral damage inflicted on the big man’s pride.

Nel could make things hot and heavy for the Dolphins this weekend. Home supporters will be hoping they’re not all at sea.

Apart from Nel, the on-song Highveld Lions pace arsenal has Garnett Kruger — a quickie who loves Kingsmead — the maturing Matt Alexander and the underrated former Free State Eagle, Cliffie Deacon. Add to that the undervalued Bethlehem-born Werner Coetsee — an off-spinner with a penchant for batting — and you have an attack capable of inflicting a devastating casualty count.

Possibly a reason for the Lions’ four-day resurgence after a dismal 2007/08 season, in which they finsished the SS Series in last place, is new coach Dave Nosworthy.

The 40-year-old South African was headhunted from New Zealand first-class side Canterbury, where he spent three seasons, won three competitions and was credited by Canterbury Cricket CE Lee Germon with “driving a re-building period that has resulted in the growth of our players and an outstanding last season that saw a young side win the State Championship and make the semi-finals of the State Shield”.

With Mckenzie’s return, one of the white players will have to be left out because the Lions have only four players of colour in their squad of 12 for Kingsmead — Petersen, Kruger, Alexander and former Dolphin Jonathan Vandiar.

The 18-year-old Vandiar reportedly looked out of his depth at number six in making a duck and eight against the Warriors.

The published requirement is four players of colour, minimum, in a franchise XI and that could mean Jean Symes will become the latest victim of the transformation farce that is poisoning SA cricket.

TEAMS:

Dolphins (from): Imraan Khan, Rivash Gobind, David Miller, Ahmed Amla (capt), Grant Rowley, Pierre de Bruyn, Daryn Smit, Johann Louw, Quinton Friend, Ugasen Govender, Yusuf Abdullah, Said Mlongo.

Lions (from): Neil McKenzie (capt), Jean Symes, Alviro Petersen, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Stephen Cook, Werner Coetsee, Matthew Harris, Cliffie Deacon, Andre Nel, Garnett Kruger, Craig Alexander, Jonathan Vandiar.

Other matches: Warriors vs Eagles; Titans vs Cobras.

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