Ford wants to keep drive going

2009-11-12 00:00

THE Dolphins and the Eagles are in town today, and those who venture to the Oval are sure to be treated to quality SuperSport Series cricket.

The Dolphins, who are getting into their stride, will be hoping to continue their improvement, but they will be hard-pressed against an Eagles side still smarting from their MTN40 loss at Kingsmead last Sunday.

“Make no mistake, they are a quality unit who will punish us if we are not at our best,” Dolphins coach Graham Ford said last night.

“They have always been a very consistent and disciplined side, and they have quality in batting and bowling.”

Not that Ford lacks quality within his own team, ably led by Imraan Khan.

The slightly built left-hander was on Monday recognised for last season’s barn-storming form by being named as one of the Mutual and Federal SA cricketers of the year.

It is a distinct honour, one that puts into context a season that saw Khan top the SuperSport Series run charts and sign off the season with a Test cap against Australia.

Ford said that he had never been worried about the extra responsibility of captaincy affecting Khan, and early indications are that he was right.

“He had an amazing season last year, so no one expects him to hit those heights again.

“But what I always knew is that he is a fierce competitor who already has a lot of captaincy experience. It has obviously helped that he has been making runs, because that makes the job a bit easier.”

Ford, who has made a point of backing the Dolphins’ glut of youngsters, also acknowledged the behind-the-scenes tutelage of the likes of HD Ackermann and Andrew Hall.

“There is a lot of knowledge there, so we have made sure we have distributed the responsibility.”

The frenetic start to the season aside, the Dolphins have made steady strides over the last month, and Ford said it is a bit unfortunate that they are now switching formats after two weeks of MTN40.

“That has been a bit tricky to deal with. At the start of the season we were just getting into the four-day stuff. Then we changed to MTN40, where we started getting some sort of form. Now we are back to four-day, so we hope to transfer that form to this weekend.”

The Dolphins have lost Yusuf Abdulla and Loots Bosman to Pro20 national duty, but have recalled a rejuvenated Jon Kent to the squad.

The lanky all-rounder, in the midst of a benefit season, was back in the runs for KZN Coastals last week, with a century in the three-day affair.

Also in the squad are Mthokozisi Shezi and Keshav Maharaj, who impressed with the ball against Boland.

The Oval pitch, which was covered earlier in the week, will play a role in deciding which combination Ford goes with.

There may be the temptation to draft in Maharaj to complement Daryn Smit’s leg-spinners, but the forecast for the weekend points to more grey skies.

The Dolphins will certainly have to be at their best to match an Eagles outfit bursting with potential.

Ford and local lad David Miller are back in familiar surrounds, and they will hope to see a few friends in the stands over the next few days.

Entrance is free and play starts at 9.30 am.

• Meanwhile, the KZN Cricket Union is inviting all former first class cricketers to register with the Union, as part of an initiative to honour them.

A capping ceremony at Kingsmead tomorrow will be the first of various functions designed to acknowldge the contribution of the former cricketers.

For further details, contact Toni van Quickelberg on 031 335 4200 or e-mail toniv@cricket.co.za.

 

Dolphins Squad: Imraan Khan (captain), Cameron Delport, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla, David Miller, Jon Kent, Andrew Hall, Daryn Smit, Johann Louw, Quinton Friend, Mthokozisi Shezi, Keshav Maharaj, Bradley Barnes.

The latest standings are (matches in brackets): 1. Titans 29,98 (3), 2. Warriors 29,56 (3), 3. Eagles 22,48 (2), 4. Lions 21,20 (3), 5. Dolphins 17,42 (3), 6. Cobras 11,14 (2).

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