Dolphins batsmen have lifesavers

2007-12-19 00:00

IN a bid to find answers for the Dolphins batting slump, The Witness spoke to coach Yashin Ebrahim, captain Ahmed Amla and academy mentor Graham Ford yesterday.

First, the statistics. In their last five innings, the Dolphins have made 164 and 147 in Pietermaritzburg, 147 in Durban and lastly 210 and a paltry 63 versus the Cobras in Cape Town a few days ago.

Of the top six who have played in most of the seven matches, only vice-captain and opener Imraan Khan (402 runs averaging 37) and Amla (370 at 37) have been reasonably consistent, while the vastly experienced Doug Watson (310 at 28) and youngsters Wayne Madsen (197 at 22) and Jonathan Vandiar (165 at 21) have played a significant innings or two.

Ebrahim, Amla and Ford pointed out that the Dolphins lie second, albeit 16 points behind the log-leading Eagles, whom they meet in Bloemfontein three weeks away. Yes, the six-point deficit is now 16, but had the team been offered second place at this time before the season, “we would have taken it with both hands”, Amla said.

“We didn’t apply ourselves with the bat [against the Cobras], but we practice four times a week to cope with this sort of thing,” Amla said. “It is embarrassing, but remember we did the same to them in Pietermaritzburg.”

Ironically, the previous lowest total was 82 by the Cobras in Pietermaritzburg a fortnight ago.

“Batting has been our weakness, but hopefully in the last three games we can come back and build partnerships again. Madders and Jonathan are in their first full season and it’s a matter of converting those 30s into three figures,” said Amla.

Ebrahim emphasised that, like the Proteas in the recent T20 game against the West Indies, “everything the opposition touched turned to gold”.

“Where we nicked off, the Cobras played and missed, while they also bowled some jaffers. Watching the video, some of our top order, Madders and Immy, did everything right but the extra bounce and movement of Monde Zondeki in particular played a big part. The boys were up for it, no question, but it was one of those games. Our young bucks are making their way and in a rebuilding phase you are going to get results like this,” said Ebrahim.

“Every time they are out there they become better players and learn more than any coach can teach them in the nets,” said Ford. “They have been identified and we must be patient. If the Dolphins stick with them they will pay back big time. Give them a chance to develop, show faith in their potential and in time a really good side will develop.”

It is well to remember that the loss of Dale Benkenstein and Lance Klusener means that Watson and to a lesser extent Amla and Khan are the only batsmen with experience.

“The guys are putting in the work, they’ve been brilliant, and we are still backing them,” said Ebrahim.

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