CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 09: Dolphins celebrating with Justin Kemp leaving the field during the 2014 Ram Slam T20 final match between Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and Sunfoil Dolphins at Sahara Park Newlands on February 09, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Cape Cobras 146/8 (Van Wyk 47, Kallis 4/26)

Dolphins 144/7 (Engelbrecht 56, Van Zyl 46)

Dolphins won by 2 runs


Zaahier Adams


“IT WAS like when you’re on the golf course, and you’ve hit a chip shot and waiting it for it to dip, and you’re shouting dip, dip, dip!” That was Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk’s view from behind the wicket when Cobras slugger Justin Kemp launched the final ball of the RamSlam T20 Challenge towards the Railway Stand at Newlands yesterday.

A six would have tied this intense final and taken it into a “Super Over”. Unfortunately for Kemp and the over 15 000 people that turned up at Newlands on a glorious Sunday afternoon, the ball fell an agonizing 1.5 metres from the rope to only go for a four and hand the Dolphins their first trophy in eight years.

“How close was that?” Cobras coach Paul Adams said afterwards. “Not even two metres. We did so well to get back into the game after our poor start with the bat, and then to lose it by that small difference is gut-wrenching. The guys really left it all out there. I know a lot of people who came to the ground would have left disappointed because we didn’t win the trophy, but we really gave it our all.”

The final was a fitting end to a wonderfully entertaining RamSlam T20 Challenge. It ebbed and flowed throughout, with nobody giving each other an inch. It made for pulsating viewing, especially when the Cobras ultimately required 14 runs off Robbie Frylinck’s last six balls to ensure the T20 silverware came back to Cape Town after a two-year absence.

The fact that the Cobras’ actually came that close was astonishing, considering the home side were in an awful mess at 20/4 within the first six overs, with Proteas legend Jacques Kallis among the quintet already back in the pavilion. Frylinck, who has this uncanny knack of picking up the big players’ wickets, clean-bowled the master batsman. Kallis had earlier shown that he has lost none of his hunger for the game with a four-wicket haul with the ball to peg the Dolphins back in the first innings.

An unlikely near-hero for the Cobras was found in the form of SA Engelbrecht, a young man who lists studying at UCT as his primary occupation. Engelbrecht was last at the crease for the Cobras back in February 2010. Here was a cricketer that the system had almost forgotten about, but through his passion for the game and desire to succeed, had continued to work hard at the lower levels.

Engelbrecht’s 56 off just 39 balls (4x4, 2x6) embarrassed his more senior teammates like Richard Levi, skipper Justin Ontong and Dane Vilas. While their footwork was tentative and shot-selection questionable, Engelbrecht was assured and positive, none more so than when he danced down the pitch to Daryn Smit’s leg-spinners to send him straight back over his head for consecutive sixes. The turning point, though, came when Frylinck ran out Van Zyl with a direct hit to end the 91-run partnership after which Engelbrecht held out to mid-off off Kyle Abbott in the penultimate over.

“There’s no doubt we lost the game with our top-order batting. We often speak about the fact that you can’t win the game in the powerplay, but you can certainly lose it. And when you’re 20/4, you are going to lose more games than you win. SA’s innings was just phenomenal and will do wonders for his career going forward,” Adams said.

But for all the despair in the Cobras’ changeroom last night, the Dolphins were deserving 2013-2014 RamSlam T20 Challenge champions. They were the only team to beat the Cobras in a full 20-over match in the league phase, and that was when Adams could still call on the majority of his Proteas stars too. They are also now the only side to penetrate the Newlands fortress in a franchise final, with the Cobras previously being unbeaten in playoffs. Having achieved this with both their overseas signings Chris Gayle and Graeme Onions being ruled out of the tournament through injury requires a colossal effort.

“It’s been a wonderful journey. Coming to a new franchise, and being the new guy, I could not have asked for a better bunch of guys. This trophy means a lot to many people back in Durban, especially with us coming to Newlands to finish it off,” said Van Wyk.