Doug Watson the last of a memorable era

2008-04-29 00:00

AN illustrious era of KZN cricketers who represented their province and country with distinction has drawn to a close.

To no one’s surprise, Doug Watson, the 34-year-old Dolphins and former South Africa A opening batsman, is not among the 14 contracted players on the payroll for the 2008/09 season. An excellent team man and a most successful batsman since the advent of franchises, there is no cricket reason why Watson has been axed.

This official news, confirmed by Dolphins director of playing affairs Jay Naidoo yesterday, brings to an end a chapter of KZN cricketing history that also included Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hudson, Lance Klusener, Dale Benkenstein and Neil Johnson along with Watson, who spent around 15 years fending off the country’s best bowlers in the province’s cause.

As distinguished Witness cricket columnists continue to highlight, very few of the retired players of the nineties and beyond — the Brian McMillans, Clive Rices, Andrew Hudsons — are involved anymore, for any number of reasons. The consequence places a massive burden on coach Yashin Ebrahim, experienced skipper Ahmed Amla and his deputy Imraan Khan to guide the likes of (relatively) new boys Morné van Vuuren, Ugasen Govender and the 18-year-old David Miller through the treacherous waters of first-class cricket can be.

Meanwhile, many highly promising youngsters have been discarded.

Top-order batsman Kyle Smit, all-rounder Robbie Frylinck and leg-spinner Tyron Pillay have lost their contracts, batsman Wayne Madsen is going overseas, while other Dolphins players — among them batsmen Martin Bekker and Khaya Zondo — have been overlooked. The Dolphins have also lost top-class prospect Jonathan Vandiar to the Lions.

Miller has been granted a two-year rookie contract that “can be upgraded in the second year if performances warrant it”, Naidoo said. “The rest are on senior contracts.”

Dolphins CEO Cassim Docrat said the franchise has been granted an extension by Cricket South Africa to add the last two contracted names.

Meanwhile, CSA chief executive Gerald Majola has confirmed that Pro20 winners the North-East Titans and the Dolphins will represent the country in the inaugural International Pro20 Champions League.

“We are confident that the two finalists will do extremely well in the Pro20 League to be played in the UK in August this year,” Majola said.

2008/09 contracts: Ahmed Amla, Imraan Khan, Jon Kent, Pierre de Bruyn, Alfonso Thomas, Quinton Friend, Johann Louw, Ugasen Govender, Yusuf Abdullah, Saidi Mhlongo, David Miller, Daryn Smit, HD Ackerman, Morne van Vuuren. Nationally contracted: Hashim Amla.

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