Dolphins' first-ball disaster

2008-11-06 00:00

IT was the most frustrating of days for the KZN Dolphins at Kingsmead yesterday when the Free State Eagles crawled to 195 for three in this fifth-round SuperSport Series match before the inevitable Durban bad light stopped play.

Just 79 overs were bowled with 17 lost as the Eagles escaped from a near-calamitous first ball of the match to post what could be at least a match-saving first innings total, albeit at a forgettable 2,46 run rate. “Match-saving” because victories in Dolphins SS Series matches these days are scarcer than hens’ teeth.

After overnight rain, the Eagles were asked to bat on what Dolphins convenor of selectors Jay Naidoo described as a typical Kingsmead first-morning wicket.

“Knowing the Kingsmead wicket and cloudy morning conditions, best chance is to get at the opposition early,” Naidoo told The Witness. “Unfortunately Dean Elgar was dropped [third slip Imraan Khan] off the match’s first ball [bowler Quinton Friend]. If we had got into them quickly, who knows, we might have rolled them for 150.”

As it happened, Elgar got stuck in while Morne van Wyk hung around long enough for the Eagles to post a first-wicket 57 to set the stage for the dull fare that followed.

A shaky 62/2 after Rilee Rossouw went cheaply improved to 103 when Elgar, who pierced the field 12 times off 148 balls for his 70, was trapped in front. Eagles skipper Boeta Dippenaar (53*, 159b, 6x4) and Ryan Bailey (47*, 107b, 8x4) were risk-free in registering a 92-run partnership for the fourth wicket at 2,60 to take the Bloemfontein side to stumps.

The Dolphins have another go when they take the second new ball after one over today and could be back in the game.

They again omitted left-arm fast-medium Yusuf Abdullah (25) who has now missed three of the five matches.

“Yusuf is carrying a slight shoulder strain and with the one-day season coming up and his prowess in that arena, we didn’t want to risk him,” said Naidoo.

This is the fourth of five Dolphins home games and at the halfway stage of the SS Series they are struggling to make any headway. The SS Series returns in February after the limited-overs competitions.

Nearly all in their mid-twenties, it is doubtful whether the Dolphins attack sends shivers down the spines of any first-class batsmen. To be fair, they are missing Johann Louw (currently with Proteas) who took 40-odd SS Series wickets last season.

Notwithstanding the first-ball disappointment, they toiled long and hard, but again failed to deliver. It would be unfair to burden readers with figures, but a close look at their first-class statistics reveal no one who immediately demands your attention.

Accordingly, Dolphins supporters can surely be forgiven in longing for 30 or so years ago when Mike Procter steamed in for Natal followed by Vince van der Bijl at the other end. Now, there were bowlers — and stats — that made you sit up and take notice, jumped out at you, immediately grabbed your attention.

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