Irritating rain frustrates cricket lovers and Dolphins’ progress

2013-12-13 00:00

RAIN — it’s the giver of life, it causes destruction, it gives, it takes away and it also causes infinite levels of frustration.

It’s one of life’s great ironies that cricket is a summer game, a game played in a season when the heavens decide to deposit what they have stored over the winter onto the cricket fields of South Africa, Durban and Pietermaritzburg in particular.

When the season dawns, fixtures scheduled for Kingsmead and the PMB Oval are looked at with a cynical smile and more apprehension than appreciation of having a home fixture.

Instead of looking forward to game time and doing what they are contracted to do, thoughts turn to how much game time will actually be permitted and if matches in any format will be allowed to run the distance.

It’s tough work for the Dolphins, who need as much game time as possible to compete with the other franchises in the various competitions.

While franchises in other parts of the country invariably get the opportunity to play their fixtures, just the mere mention of the word cricket is enough to break the most severe drought in Durban.

And it happens right on cue, without fail. Days of magnificent sun — when there is no cricket scheduled — are suddenly followed by drizzle and irritating rain when a match is due to be played. It’s as if there is someone or an unknown force in the skies above sitting next to a switch connected to all the rain depots over KwaZulu-Natal and when cricket season arrives, it’s time to flick it into the on position, sit back and take great delight from the result.

Whether it’s a four-day, one-day or even a three-hour T20 game, the fixture always hangs in the balance if it’s played in November and December in KwaZulu-Natal. January is not too far behind either with adding some moisture to proceedings and even the upcoming Boxing Day five-day Test against India is guaranteed to be threatened, at times ruined, by rain.

Ask any Dolphins player, past or present, about playing in Durban and the common factor is always the rain issue. Some have even suggested that fixtures in the first half of the season be played away from home, in the drier parts of the country so some play can be accomplished and the team can attempt to earn points that will keep them interested on the various logs.

It’s rather unfair at times, when the Dolphins are held up by rain, losing vital hours, at times days of play to rain, while in other parts of the country, matches progress toward a finish and a haul of points for the winners.

Cricket followers in Durban are always quick to zone in on the Dolphins, bemoaning the fact that they have not won a trophy for five seasons and are an embarrassment to the province.

That may have a certain ring of truth to it, but looking at the weather and the opportunities they have had to play when at home, tells a different story. It’s not always poor performances that dictate a place on the log and while it may come across as a poor excuse, it’s one that lends some beef to the Dolphins’ cause.

Take a look at the current four-day competition. The Dolphins are bottom of the log with 8,10 points from two matches, way behind the Titans who are one above them on 15,72 points from their two games.

While both these sides have a game in hand over the other franchises, playing stop-start cricket dictated by the weather is never going to make much ground.

Granted the Dolphins were comprehensively beaten by the Cobras in their opening four-day clash in PMB, but rain denied them a decent game against the Knights at the same venue when some decent batting set up what could have been a challenging score for the Dolphins bowlers to defend. The current match against the Titans in Durban has already become a farce with the first two days completely washed out.

How do the Dolphins compete and do what they have to in order to challenge for some silverware in a domestic competition? In this season’s one day cup competition they gave a glimpse of what they can do if the weather allows by reaching the play-off and playing decent, competitive cricket.

Now, they spend more time looking out the changeroom window, watching more rain fall, watching valuable playing time slip away.

It’s out of their control and has become par for the course playing for a franchise based in Durban.

Spare a thought for the players, especially the visiting teams, who want to do what they do best and are paid for. They practise and work hard in preparation for the new season, only to see their efforts ruined by the weather.

It’s a risky business, but they take the good with the bad and attempt to make the most out of the situation.

Consider the weather next time before criticising the Dolphins and their progress in the domestic cricket competitions. It has a massive role in determining their fortunes for the season.

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