KZN Inland have no friend in Quinton — or Loots

2009-10-08 00:00

IMAGINE: you win the toss and mistakenly decide to bat, suddenly remembering that the fastest bowler in the province will be tearing into you desperate to test just how safe your batting helmet is, followed by another tear-away paceman, a former team-mate, steaming in from the other end hell-bent on testing exactly how well his toe-crunching yorker is coming on.

As the words, “We’ll bat” are about to escape your lips, you choke them back with a hurried cough and manage to splutter out the other option available to cricket captains.

Then you wonder why your opening bowlers groan in despair after you have signalled that they and the fielders must warm up … until it painfully dawns on you. KZN Coastal have selected the hardest hitting opening batsmen in the country, a man who just loves loose bowling.

Jokes aside, spare a thought for KZN Inland. They will have their hands full dealing with fast bowlers Quinton Friend and Mario Saliwa, plus master blaster Loots Bosman at the Maritzburg Oval during the next four days.

The three KZN Dolphins squad members are in the Coastal line-up for the SA Provincial Challenge three-day match from today. The 45-over clash follows on Sunday. And we haven’t even begun talking about Dolphins left-arm seamer Saidi Mlongo or explosive young opening batsman Cameron Delport.

The homeboys’ Oliver Humphries and Sashen Dorasamy are injured. Zingari’s Lyndon Brown returns. In-form Morne van Vuuren (work commitments) is again only available for Sunday.

Inland’s top-order frailties have plagued them for a long time. In the three-day draw and 45-over loss to Western Province last weekend, the first wicket yielded four, three and 12 runs respectively. Pakistan-born Inland opening batsman Dipak Anand has come up from Durban and was brought in by player/coach Doug Watson specifically to plug the hole. The 34-year-old Anand had a nightmarish debut, scoring 1, 2 and 2 in the 37 balls he faced.

Perhaps it is time Watson himself takes the responsibility.

Why? Because the 35-year-old Watson, the most capped Dolphins cricketer, an opening batsman for 15 of his 17 first-class seasons before opting to bat in the middle order for Inland over the last two, is just two quick singles short of 12 000 runs at this level.

Now, more than ever, Watson’s team-mates need their vastly experienced player/coach — the scorer of 19 hundreds and 69 half-centuries at this level — to lead from the front.

As Watson himself said in the face of criticism last week at the selection of Anand to open the innings: “No one put their hands up last season. Age doesn’t come into it. What is more important right now is that Inland get a decent start at the top of the order.”

Whatever. At the very least, the action at the top of every innings will be explosive, so bring along your picnics, beverages and braais. It’ll be fun.

TEAMS

KZN Inland: Tim Drummond (capt), Mario Olivier, Dipak Anand, Glen Addicott, Doug Watson, Bradley Moses, Kyle Nipper, Lyndon Brown, Mbasa Gqadushe, Narvaar Harridave, Richard Hlela, Morne van Vuuren.

KZN Coastal: Cameron Delport, Loots Bosman, Khaya Zondo, Greg Fotheringham, Cody Chetty, Bradley Barnes, Keshav Maharaj, Quinton Friend (capt), Vyash Gobind, Saidi Mlongo, Mario Saliwa, Mthokozisi Shezi.

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