Watson returns as selectors ponder next season’s contracts

2008-04-01 00:00

DOUG Watson, the KZN Dolphins opening batsman, is back in the team for the non-televised Pro20 match against Zimbabwe from 6 pm tomorrow in Durban.

Dolphins selection chief Jay Naidoo told The Witness yesterday that Watson returns for Martin Bekker, while in the only other change to the team that endured a 10-wicket thrashing by the Free State/Griquas Eagles, left-arm quickie Saidi Mhlongo takes the place of Alfonso Thomas.

Watson, who has the best and most lasting limited-overs record of all the Dolphins batsmen, will open the innings with Imraan Khan, said Naidoo.

The situation regarding the omission of Thomas is curious. Naidoo said the former North-East Titans man has gone to England to sort out problems regarding his Kolpak status.

The question is, how can you sign a player for the express purpose of bolstering your limited-overs side and then release him for what is a crucial game if the bottom-of-the log Dolphins hope to beat second-last Zimbabwe in their endeavour to reach the Pro20 semi-finals?

Naidoo said Thomas, who has been contracted to play for Somerset, needs to clear his status with the England Cricket Board before they will give him the green light for the county season. “It appears as if the ECB now require prospective Kolpak players to be interviewed before they give them the go-ahead,” Naidoo said.

The Dolphins selection boss said Thomas would be back on Friday and available for Sunday’s equally crucial 2.30 pm match against the Eastern Cape Warriors at Kingsmead.

Naidoo confirmed that the Pretoria-born right-handed batsman Johann Myburgh (27) has all but signed on the Dolphins dotted line for next season. He said Myburgh is keen to return to his homeland after playing provincial cricket for Canterbury in New Zealand, under former Titans coach Dave Nosworthy.

Regarding the numerous delays in announcing the new contracted Dolphins squad for next season, Naidoo said a number of issues were taking more time to iron out than initially expected.

“The deadline for announcing the new Dolphins squad is May 15, but we still hope to announce it quite some time before then,” he said.

It is worth noting that the Dolphins brains trust have not exactly covered themselves in glory of late, with regard to new signings from outside the province.

New acquisition Myburgh follows in the footsteps of fellow imports HD Ackerman (Warriors), Alfonso Thomas and Pierre de Bruyn (both North-East Titans), Liam Plunkett (Durham and England) plus Quinton Friend (Western Cape Cobras).

In the current season, neither Ackerman, Friend, De Bruyn, Thomas nor Plunkett featured in either the SuperSport Series or MTN one-day competition’s top 20 batsmen or bowlers.

Pro20 log (matches in brackets): 1 Eagles (3) 10 points; 2 Titans 9 pts; 3 Highveld Lions (2) 5 pts; 4 Cobras (1) 4 pts; 5 Warriors (3) 4 pts; 6 Zimbabwe (3) 4 pts; 7 Dolphins (2) 0 pts.

Dolphins team versus Zimbabwe: Imraan Khan, Doug Watson, Ahmed Amla (capt), Grant Rowley, Jon Kent, Pierre de Bruyn, Morne van Vuuren, Daryn Smit, Johann Louw, Yusuf Abdullah, Saidi Mhlongo.

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