‘Format ideal for us’

2013-11-21 00:00

FOR the cricket purist, the game begins its “normal” phase on the domestic calendar today as the Dolphins pull on their whites to face the Cobras in their opening Sunfoil four-day series clash at Pietermaritzburg Oval.

It’s a change of gear from the one-day cup and Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk is confident the players are ready for the task. “This is a form of the game I enjoy and have shown steady improvement with over the past few seasons,” he said.

“It’s not too much of an adjustment from the one-day competition and allows the players to be more selfish with their skills. This format calls on all their skills and allows them to do what’s important — spending time at the crease as a batsman and bowling long spells with the ball.”

Van Wyk added that the squad was balanced, with all bases covered.

“Obviously we will see what the conditions are like before making the final team selection. The wicket, the weather — they are all factors in determining the course of the game.”

The Cobras are the defending four-day champions and are not to be taken lightly. However, the Dolphins will take massive confidence into the match knowing that of the two matches the Cobras lost last season, one was to the Dolphins, at Newlands.

“No team can be taken lightly in the competition and this should be a good contest with no side keen to give an inch,” said Van Wyk.

Jannie Vermaak, groundsman at the oval, said the ground was 100% ready for the match, with a new strip that could offer some turn.

“We have had some heavy rain, followed by intense heat,” said Vermaak. “The wicket has had some time under the hot sun and is nice and hard, ready for the quick bowlers to get stuck in. The weather looks like it has broken and all being well, we should have plenty of play in the next four days.”

Confidence in the Dolphins camp is high after a competitive one-day cup competition where they lost in the play-off to the Titans, denied of a spot in the final against the Cobras.

“Yes, we will take the fact that the boys are hitting the ball well and bowling decently. Mix that with some confidence from last season where we finished the four-day series strongly to end third on the log and we should deliver more than a half decent performance,” said Dolphins coach Lance Klusener.

England bowler Graham Onions is expected to step up to the mark, having been the highest wicket-taker in the English County Championship, and should find the four-day format more to his liking.

“He is a vital cog in our machine as far as the four-day competition goes and once he has settled, will be vital to our cause and campaign,” said Van Wyk.

Play starts at 9.30 am on all four days.

Dolphins Squad: Imraan Khan, Divan van Wyk, Craig Alexander, Kyle Abbott, Khaya Zondo, Morné van Wyk (C), Keshav Maharaj, Graham Onions, Daryn Smit, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Robbie Frylinck, Cody Chetty, Prenelan Subrayen.

Dolphins v Cobras Four-Day Stats

Played 18

Dolphins won 5

Cobras won 4

Drawn 9

Dolphins highest innings score: 499 (Cape Town 2006/07)

Cobras highest innings score: 515-5 (Paarl 2010/11)

Dolphins lowest innings score: 63 (Cape Town 2007/08)

Cobras lowest innings score: 82 (PMB 2007/08)

Dolphins highest individual score: 153 Hashim Amla (Durban 2005/06)

Cobras Highest individual Score: 200* JP Duminy (Paarl 2010/11)

Dolphins best bowling: 12-96 Kyle Abbott (Cape Town 2012/13)

Cobras best bowling: 10/93 Monde Zondeki (PMB 2007/08)

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