Doug Watson upbeat about Inland’s progress at halfway stage

2010-12-23 00:00

LOOKING at KZN Inland’s performance at the halfway stage of the 2010/11 season, it is clear that coach Doug Watson is reasonably satisfied at the team’s progress.

“Team spirit is very high and the players are progressing nicely from a skills perspective,” Watson told The Witness yesterday, while taking a well-deserved break from his cricketing duties.

The Provincial Challenge three-day log sees Inland in fifth place in the 14-team competition, with KZN Coastal in eighth place. Gauteng lead the title race followed by Western Province and Border.

Inland lie 10th on the 40-over log with KZN Coastal eighth. Gauteng are in first place followed by Western Province and North West.

“We are better-placed than this time last year and it’s just a question of putting all the pieces together in any given match, like we did against Griquas in Kimberley,” said Watson. “We batted like champs, our bowling was tops and the fielding was outstanding. If you look back in history, the best sides at any level are able to get all components firing more often than their opponents. They are regularly operating at 90% and that’s really the key to cricketing success.”

The former Dolphins and South Africa A opening bat, the most capped provincial cricketer in the province’s long history, said Inland does not have a large player base, but there is exciting talent coming through.

Indeed, the “Pack for Durban” route of the KZN capital’s best schoolboy cricketers is no longer as evident, with indications suggesting that the likes of provincial U19 stars Jarryd Walsh, Tyler Lortan, Nic Hendrie, Jarryd Phillips and Wade Lezar are all throwing in their lot with local clubs.

“The Inland union is making the province an attractive place to play cricket and deserve the credit,” said Watson.

As to his own coaching career, which is hardly three years old at first-class level, Watson says player management, as much as coaching, is vital. “Some players need guidance in terms of their lives outside the game, others need specific technical skills advice, it’s a mix and match kind of thing.”

As to individuals, Watson said the obvious highlight was opening bowler Brady Barends’s nine wickets in an innings, but he emphasised how each player needed acknowledgement.

“And with Brad Moses, Devon Conway and Glen Addicott representing the Dolphins, it shows we must be doing something right, as one of Inland’s primary roles is to act as a feeder to our franchise team,” he added.

In their remaining three-day and 40-over matches, captain Kyle Nipper’s Inland side meet Border (away) from January 6 to 9 and Boland (home) from January 13 to 16 before the KZN derby at the Maritzburg Oval from February 10 to 13.

From February 24 to 27, Watson’s boys will host the South Western Districts lads and enjoy a face-to-face with former Inland all-rounder and current SWD coach, Garry Hampson.

Inland travel to Port Elizabeth to take on Eastern Province from March 3 to 6. Then there is a fortnight’s break before the final item on Inland’s 2010/11 season calendar has them making the trek to Potchefstroom to face North West from March 24 to 27.

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