“There’s no silverware on the table yet.” Morné van Wyk’s blissful Friday morning was disturbed by a dozy truck driver barging into his gate – a snappy reminder that one can never get too carried away, regardless of what happened the night before.
“It’s been quite a morning already,” the Dolphins captain laughed following his team’s demolition of the Titans in the RamSlam T20 Challenge play-off in Durban, “but I didn’t sleep much anyway.
“It was a special win for us, but we are not in the business to just win playoff games and be satisfied with getting to finals.
“What we really want is to go down there and win the trophy. We are giving ourselves chances to win titles by getting to these late stages, and now it’s time for us to go out and finish the job.”
Against the Cape Cobras at Newlands in Cape Town this afternoon (2.30 start), the Dolphins will look to garner their first piece of silverware since sharing the 2005/06 SuperSport Series. And what’s more, they will go there with a real sense of belief that they can do it.
“We have to be favourites going into the final now,” man of the hour David Miller declared deep into Thursday night.
“The great thing for us is that we have been playing as the same unit throughout the competition, but they will be a totally different team. They don’t have their Proteas, and (overseas pro) Sunil Narine won’t be there either.”
Of course, the Cobras still have considerable fire-power and experience in their ranks, even without their international stars. Beuran Hendricks has romped away in the wicket-taker’s race, while Stiaan van Zyl and Richard Levi are capable of producing devastating performances on their day.
Add the wily Justin Ontong and Justin Kemp and one can see why they ended up top of the table.
“They’ve got a fantastic squad, and great depth. We have got to respect that,” Van Wyk warned.
“What gives us great belief is that we had two good games against them in the round-robin, getting close in one, and then going down there and beating them in the second.”
Van Wyk’s chief mentor, coach Lance Klusener, has learnt to never get carried away, after his own career of incredible highs and some grim lows. But even he admitted that the win over the Titans could well have been be a turning point in the Dolphins’ fortunes.
“We’ve got close and missed out in the past. But the belief that we can take out of winning a game like that is massive. Seeing David play like that makes the guy sitting next to him in the change-room think ‘I can do that, too.’”
Confidence is the most priceless commodity in professional sport, because it unshackles the mind from crippling fear of failure, and allows players to reach another level of performance.
The Dolphins have spoken much this season of a new regime, a new mindset, and a new era. They are now backing up all that bluster, and new heroes are emerging.
“When we have failed in a match, we have always come back in the games after that and put in some great performances. That’s shown the character of this side, and it’s very pleasing for me as a captain to see that.”
The Dolphins had a sensational Miller special to thank for getting them over the line against the Titans, but Van Wyk was quick to point out that what marked his team as really dangerous was the fact that each player, to a man, had swayed a match in their favour in the RamSlam T20 competition.
“That’s the most encouraging aspect of this team, because we don’t look to one or two individuals. It was David’s turn the other night, and I am sure someone else will put their hand up in the final.”
With both teams already assured of a place in the next edition of the lucrative Champions League, there is the prospect of today’s finale becoming an exhibition of shot-making, a high-scoring orgy of boundaries.
In a funny sort of way, everyone is a winner today. But the Dolphins, after years of toil, of near-misses and heartbreak, will feel that the force is finally with them, and see this is a perfect opportunity to return to the glory days. - Sunday Independent