Dolphins look to the future

2010-02-17 00:00

H.D. Ackerman — axed.

Andrew Hall, Pierre de Bruyn — dismissed.

Johann Louw and Alfonso Thomas — gone.

The KZN Dolphins, in light of a dismal last month — and, indeed, last few years — have finally taken stock of where they are as a franchise and made some big decisions.

In a brutal cull, they have swiftly rid the side of several “pensioners”, though the departure of Johann Louw is somewhat surprising.

Nevertheless, coach Graham Ford has plotted a new path for the Dolphins, and it promises to be one that at least harnesses local talent.

“It’s going to be tough, and we are not too sure how long it will take, but it’s time that we started focusing on developing local ta­lent,” Ford said last night at a has­tily arranged press conference.

Along with CEO Jesse Chellan and manager of playing affairs Jay Naidoo, Ford answered some pressing concerns about the future of the game in KZN.

What seems clear is that the new administration, under Chellan, has not been best pleased with the structures in place, and the overhaul is now in overdrive.

Central to the future ambitions of the Dolphins is the identification of talent — wherever it may be in the province.

There has been a feeling that any players from the Inland region who have ambitions to play for the Dolphins need to ply their trade in Durban, but Chellan dismissed such ways of thinking.

“It’s important to remind people that the Dolphins are selected based on performance at first-class level. Both Inland and Coas­tals play on that stage so, if someone performs, they will get a chance.”

Ford used the example of Kyle Nipper, who will definitely play against the Lions on Friday night, as a player who came from nowhere on strong perfor­mances.

“If a guy is out there, and he can play, we need to have the structures in place to bring him in,” Ford said.

“The goal is to become the best franchise in the country in a few years, but that will take a lot of hard work from everyone,” he added.

Ford’s plans include a winter boot camp for all those who are in the Dolphins’ sights.

“The idea is to get the guys up to the proper standard — both in terms of skills and conditioning,” Ford said.

“If you look at our conditioning, we are way short of where we need to be.”

The winter “boot camp” will also serve as a trial to determine who will be handed contracts for next season.

Clearly, then, no one can carry on cruising in a comfort zone down Kingsmead way.

Further plans to revive a flagging club structure, and also to ensure that the cream of KZN’s ta­lents stays within the province, are also underway.

“You look at a guy like Jonathan Vandiar and you realise how massive a loss he is,” Ford lamented.

“We would love to have him back, but I fear that in a few years, he may be an international player anyway,” Ford added.

What the Dolphins want to do is unearth more “Vandiars” — and keep them.

The Dolphins also confirmed the signing of Imran Tahir for next season, and the arrival of left-arm quickie Ruan Pietersen from Griquas.

The 22-year old will make his bow on Friday night, and is expec­ted to feature strongly in the Supersport Series campaign.

The temptation to shop overseas has been tempered by the lucrative IPL, and Ford for one thinks that will only help to focus everyone on local development.

It has been a long time coming, but the cobwebs that have infested KZN cricket are starting to be swept away.

The road ahead is littered with challenges, but where there is youth, hope springs eternal.

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