Watson a breath of fresh air

2008-07-25 00:00

After a KZN cricket season that nobody wants to remember, Doug Watson’s appointment as player/coach of KZN Inland might just be the catalyst to turn things around in the 2008/09 season.

Yes, the Dolphins franchise did finish with a flourish when a remarkable five unbeaten matches on the trot led to a Pro20 final that could so easily have been theirs, but for the rest it was depressing for any intelligent supporter.

Aside from Pro20, the Dolphins were forgettable, while the KZN Inland and Coastal sides had abysmal first-class cricket seasons.

Playing in the weaker Coastal Division of the SAA three-day and one-day competitions, they finished last and second-last respectively in the longer format with a last and fourth out of seven in the 45-over. Inland could not find victory in even one of their 12 matches while Coastal managed a 25% win rate.

At Inland, an unhappy season on and off the field plus the huge reservoir of talent in Durban producing little suggests it’s time for the seasons-old KZN status quo in Durban and Pietermaritzburg to be dumped. It’s time to think out the box — and this is where Watson comes in.

As he spoke to Weekend Witness, it was clear that the most capped Dolphins cricketer and opening batsman of all time is relishing the challenge.

Watson was at pains to point out that contributing to the Dolphins cause remains priority number one.

“As in the past, it was and always has been the function of premier club and provincial ‘B team’ cricket to identify and then groom young talent so it goes on to bolster depth in the Dolphins set-up,” Watson said yesterday.

Now for the thinking out of the confines of convention.

Watson will continue to play club cricket for Chatsworth Sporting.

The thinking is three-fold. Unlike in the past, there can be no question of Inland players claiming the coach is biased toward his own club’s cricketers.

Secondly, Watson is going to identify quality Durban cricketers who have either been mystifyingly overlooked — one immediately thinks of heavy run-scorer Greg Fotheringham — or deserve a second bite at the cake (Fabian Lazarus, perhaps). Watson will also see what’s coming through in Durban at club level.

The revamped Inland selection panel can take care of watching club talent in PMB and the super-fit Watson will see them at close quarters during training.

Watson will also be heavily involved at school first XI level as head coach of Westville Boys’ High — what better way to spot young KZN talent?

“The aim must be to get the best talent in the province playing first-class cricket, wherever they are from,” Watson said.

It is going to be a busy season, but Watson (35) has never been one to shirk hard work and it was clear that he can’t wait to get started.

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