The 2016/17 cricket season - Early dramas turn into a fine ending

Domestic Cricket
JOHANNESBURG - The provincial One-Day Cup final between Northerns and Namibia on Sunday will bring the curtain down on the 2016/17 cricket season.

It has, as the Titans' young opener Aiden Markram mentioned on Wednesday, been a long one. It’s been a redemptive one for the Proteas, who looked inside themselves at that now infamous "bosberaad" before the two Tests against New Zealand last August and found motivation anew.

They thumped the Australians in a One-Day series, trounced them in a Test series on home soil - skittling them for 85 in Hobart (yup, that really happened) - hammered the Sri Lankans and got some luck in defeating New Zealand thanks to assistance from Mother Nature.

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Proteas players celebrate a wicket during one of the Tests against Australia in 2016. Photo: EPA/Dave HuntThe Knights celebrate after beating the Highveld Lions in the Sunfoil Series final. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePixThe Proteas women also had a good season, qualifying for the up-coming World Cup. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePixThe Titans celebrate after winning the T20 Challenge. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix

At the start there was drama about transformation, then there was drama over Kolpaks, then drama over AB de Villiers not playing Test cricket - for now.

Dane van Niekerk’s women’s team took the long route to the World Cup, but they qualified and were involved in one of the most exciting matches of the season against India.

Meanwhile on the home front, the Cape Cobras were more soap opera than cricket team, with Paul Adams dismissed, and Ashwell Prince appointed as coach.

This briefly lit a flame in the dressing room which was quickly doused as the season came to end. A total clean-out is required in Cape Town and it must start at the top in the Western Cape Cricket boardroom.

The Highveld Lions disappointed too, their batting just not up to the task in all three formats.

The Dolphins under Grant Morgan’s stewardship were steady and in Sibonelo Makhanya have one of those players who always seems to make something happen every time he’s near a ball. Khaya Zondo - until that error in the last match with Imran Tahir - has captained well, and he’ll learn lessons from a reasonably good first season as skipper.

The Warriors, regardless of the outcome of the Momentum One-Day Cup final on Friday have been very entertaining, a hard-working team, who love a scrap.

The two best franchise teams this season have been the Knights - the Sunfoil Series champions - and the Titans who could add to the T20 Challenge crown on Friday night.

Under the coaching reins of Nicky Boje and Mark Boucher - two of the most knowledgeable people in the game in this country - those two sides have elevated their standard of play and both supplied new young talent to the Proteas set-up.

After last summer when there was so much concern about the state of the Proteas and the sport in general in South Africa, there’s a sense of stability about things now.

Over the next few weeks everyone can take stock and then when the Proteas head to England it starts again... with an ICC tournament - the Champions Trophy. Yikes.

Cape Times

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