Pillans proves a pillar with a worn ball

2015-03-03 00:00

WHILE the Dolphins were denied victory against the Knights in the four-day series clash at Kingsmead this weekend due to rain and bad light, they can take heart at the performance of right-arm fast bowler Matthew Pillans.

Something that cannot be denied is the heart, talent and supreme effort he delivered in the match, bagging 10-129, his maiden 10-wicket haul at domestic first-class level, backed by his career best 6-67 in the Knights’ first innings.

It was his effort that initiated the breakthrough the Dolphins needed to push for the kill and wrap up proceedings when it seemed the Knights had matters under control and would ward off any damage and play out a comfortable draw.

What is encouraging is how Pillans has used his opportunity in the Dolphins side, having plied most of his trade for KZN Inland in the three-day competition. Even better is his youthful exuberance. He is only 23 and, after his weekend’s work, could become the ideal cover for Kyle Abbott, who will surely be devoting most of his time to the Protea set-up in the foreseeable future.

Pillans has arrived like a breath of fresh air at the right time, when the Dolphins need a bowler to take charge and change the course of a match.

At Kingsmead on Saturday and Sunday, he quietly went about his work and must surely be savouring a trip to New­lands late this week for the Dolphins’ next encounter against the Cobras. “This past weekend was one of those matches when everything came together and fell into place. It was all about sticking to the basics,” said Pillans. “I could not have asked for better and what a stage to record my best figures — playing for the Dolphins.”

Pillans struck when the Knights had seen off the new ball and had done the hard work. That’s another encouraging factor — a bowler able to extract good use from the older ball.

“I found it easier with the older ball, getting some reverse swing,” he said. “What I am doing is actually recording the match and what I did, writing it down for future reference. It could be a useful reference in time to come.”

As the Knights followed on, Pillans dug deep to reproduce his first innings heroics. It initially wasn’t that comfortable. “I changed my line and pace a little at the start of the innings and went for a few,” he said. “Then I changed my length and made the batsmen work for their runs.”

While acknowledging valuable time in the Dolphins ranks and the valuable ­input he has had and continues to receive from coach Lance Klusener, Pillans sited KZN Inland coach Grant Morgan and Pierre de Bruyn at Tuks for showing him the ropes when it came to bowling and developing him as a player.

“The whole Dolphins vibe is tremendous. A great bunch of players, great leadership and encouragement from captain Morne van Wyk and a positive spirit,” said Pillans. “It’s a pity we never got the result, but such is the weather’s sense of humour when it comes to cricket. I’ve taken something out of the game and, in hindsight, we were fortunate to get as much cricket played as we did.”

Pillans is ready to take his chance and continue to ride the wave of success for the Dolphins. He should be in the starting line-up for the Cobras clash, another moment worth recording in his young career. “I’ve never played at Newlands and look forward to the experience.”

If he plays his cards right, these maiden moments in Pillans’s cricket journey could become regular occurrences as he establishes himself as an important cog in the Dolphins’ engine room.

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