Masters of the game

2014-10-17 00:00

OUR domestic cricket season has started and, for the cricket connoisseur, it’s been heartening to see the so-called older players proving their worth.

A couple of four-day matches have gone by, virtually unnoticed except by those who really care, but the One Day Cup clashes have delivered some exciting and worthwhile performances in the early stages.

With television coverage shared among all the franchises, not every game gets a showing, but those that have been given the privilege have not disappointed.

Being based in Dolphins country, the two matches they have played — vs Titans and Lions — have been televised and both have left impressions, even if rain messed up the Lions clash.

What has left a mark has been the performances of the senior statesmen in these games, none more so than Dolphins skipper Morné van Wyk and Lions stalwart Neil McKenzie. Both have delivered masterclasses in batting — Van Wyk in chasing a big total and McKenzie in ensuring his side reached a decent total in an innings shortened due to the weather.

Both players have been on the domestic cricket scene for what seems like decades.

Van Wyk has plied most of his trade with the Knights, joining the Dolphins last season, while McKenzie has remained a Lion through and through, with a stint at the Titans in-between.

With the coming and going of each season, there is always speculation as to whether such senior players will continue to march on or whether they will decide to call it a day.

Judging by how they have started the season, retirement must be the last thing on their minds. As their maturity gains momentum, both are fine examples to the up and coming youngsters around them.

Van Wyk was better than brilliant in his 121* against the Titans, chasing 301 in 42 overs.

He oozed class and maturity, opening the batting and remaining in charge of the ship as he saw it into port.

He was an astute addition to the Dolphins set-up last season, with many wondering at the time if his best years were past him and asking what he could offer the franchise.

These people need wonder no more. He steered the side to a trophy in his first season and has instilled a deep culture of pride and passion for the game and the franchise. His experience and leadership are invaluable assets.

He has changed the players’ approach to the game, made them believe in themselves and made them competitive, proud of what they represent.

McKenzie stroked a brilliant hundred (101*) against the Dolphins in Durban, expelling any doubt that he needs to spend more time watching rather than playing.

He is a rock in a young side and it’s plain to see that he relishes the opportunity to show how things are done. He will always be the first name on the team sheet and will have to drop himself, such is his flame of enthusiasm for the game.

These two players stand tall as some of the most admired at South Africa’s domestic cricket level. It seems odd that they were both born in the seventies — McKenzie 1975, Van Wyk 1979 — yet here they are, among youngsters half their age, showing how it’s done and savouring every moment.

Long may they continue.

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