Recipe for success

2011-09-09 00:00

AS South Africa gears itself up for the domestic cricket season, which starts with the SuperSport Series at the end of September, the Dolphins report that the team is in a rebuilding phase and will focus on closing the gap on other franchises in both the longer and shorter formats of the game.

Speaking to The Witness, coach Graham Ford says that pre-season training has been progressing well and that the side looks on course to improve on its performances last season.

“The team has been going through an intensive pre-season training schedule which began in May and will continue until the first SuperSport Series game against the Highveld Lions in Johannesburg on September 29,” says Ford.

He adds that a good vital sign that the team is on the right track was its performances against a full-strength Cape Cobra side last month, where the Dolphins managed to win a friendly 50-over game, as well as a friendly 20-over game.

“While the Cobras looked a bit flat, our players looked like they were sharp and ready for the challenges that the season will present to them,” says Ford.

Success in the SuperSport Series has been elusive to the Durban-based side, which has not won an outright title since the combined-team era.

However, the side has two shared titles to its name, one in the 2004/05 season, and one in the 2005/06 season.

This does not mean that the Dolphins have been starved of success. Despite no titles, KwaZulu-Natal still remains the second most successful team in the longer version of the domestic game, behind Gauteng.

Dolphins captain Imraan Khan says that a mix of youth and experience in the team should prove to be the necessary tools for the team to improve on last year’s performances.

“We have a few youngsters in the team who are only in their first or second seasons, but are hungry for success. Young players to look out for are pace bowlers Kyle Abbot and Mthokozisi Shezi ,” says Khan.

In order to have a young team at his disposal, Ford says that the Dolphins started the rebuilding process last year, where a number of senior players were released. He also introduced the younger players into the setup early, so that now they are in their second season with the team.

“The team has moulded itself nicely into a tight family unit. When younger players are taken out of their comfort zones there is an initial period of apprehension, but all of that is behind the team and the younger players feel that they are very much part of the setup,” says Ford.

Khan says that the dynamics within the team are working well, and that the young players are gravitating nicely towards the leadership in the team and its senior players. He adds that he will lead by example and focus on scoring as many runs as possible this season.

Ford would not be pushed as to who he thinks would make serious claims for national selection; however, he says that there are players in the side who are good enough to make the grade.

Earlier in the week, Protea’s coach Gary Kirsten said that along with Titans gloveman Heino Kuhn, Dolphins gloveman Daryn Smit is a serious contender to fill the void Mark Boucher will leave upon his retirement. Dolphins batsman David Miller has also featured in the Protea’s limited-over side, but will now have to fight off serious opposition from Titans all-rounder Faf du Plessis to retain his place. Khan adds that the rise of Dolphins spin bowler Imran Tahir, who has played for the Proteas in the limited­-overs version of the game, adds another wicket-taking dimension to the national side.

“He lends unpredictability to the Proteas’ attack through the amount of variation that he has in his bowling. There is no doubt in my mind that, given time, he will be a huge asset to the Proteas,” says Khan.

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