No rest for Dolphins

2014-12-03 00:00

WHILE their domestic T20 season is past, there is no letting up for the ­Dolphins as they change course and focus on their four-day series campaign.

Their challenge for that title — if the weather doesn’t derail any progress — begins on December 18 against the ­Warriors on the tricky Pietermaritzburg Oval surface.

That’s a couple of weeks away and the Dolphins are leaving nothing to chance, working on the mind-set and conditioning that the four-day game demands.

“We are leaving the past behind us and looking ahead to a new competition,” said Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk.

“Some strong training sessions have already gone down with time spent in the gym and getting into shape.”

It’s a whole new ball game for the franchise as the bash and run of the T20 competition is replaced by proper cricket, calling for application, patience and skill, the latter having been a point of concern this season. “All along I have said we have the players in the squad to adapt to any format, and now is the opportunity for players to rise and stamp their authority out in the middle. We had a disappointing T20 journey, never quite on our game, never quite challenging for a position of strength,” Van Wyk said.

Basic skills always came up in accessing the Dolphins’ progress and Van Wyk again eluded to the importance of getting the basics of the game right.

“Our levels have been off and execution missing in all three disciplines — batting, bowling and fielding,” said Van Wyk. “We need to rectify this and learn from our mistakes, which leads to a new approach and how we apply those skills.”

Being more focused and maintaining a high level of performance is key for the upcoming challenges.

“Winning a game, losing a few — it’s a format that leads to your downfall — and we experienced that in the T20 competition,” said Van Wyk. “The key is to reach a level of commitment and ­performance which we can maintain, thereby putting together important wins and valuable points going forward.”

However, Van Wyk remained ­optimistic his charges would get it right soon, the T20 performances “giving the guys a wake up call and we owe our fans some decent performances”.

As for the four-day squad, Van Wyk was leaving that in the hands of the selectors, with some players missing from the shorter format certain to be recalled.

“I’m sure Divan [van Wyk] will be back as he was our leading run scorer last season and is solid at the top of the order,” he said. “Daryn Smit, who has been in the three-day team, had a good season last time around and could be back. Who knows? It’s a new focus and obviously the best batting and bowling combinations is what counts.”

With the West Indies in town, national players David Miller, Kyle Abbott and Ryan McLaren will leave gaps in the ­Dolphins side, but the game goes on.

“Four-day cricket is tough on batsmen and bowlers and it provides the ideal ­opportunity for players to step up to the plate and make their mark,” said van Wyk. “This is what cricket is about, and we need players to man up and take it on.”

Dolphins four-day fixtures

December 18 to 21 v Warriors, PMB Oval

December 27 to 30 v Titans, Kingsmead

January 8 to 11 v Warriors, East London

January 15 to 18 v Knights, Kimberley

February 19 to 22 v Lions, Wanderers

February 26 to March 1 v Knights, Kingsmead

March 5 to 8 v Cobras, Cape Town

March 12 to 15 v Titans, Centurion

March 19 to 22 v Lions, Kingsmead

March 26 to 29 v Cobras, PMB Oval.

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